A TYNEDALE solicitor is encouraging more people to understand the challenges those living with dementia face on a daily basis.
Alice Whittome a private client solicitor with leading legal firm Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors which has one the largest teams of Wills, Estates and Trust Lawyers across Cumbria and Northumberland, is championing more awareness of dementia in the community.
Alice, who works from Cartmell Shepherd’s Haltwhistle office, has completed a course to become a Dementia Friend so she is more able to help those who are living with dementia and support their families.
Alice said: “By becoming a Dementia Friend I am learning more about dementia, raising awareness and understanding, so that people living with dementia can continue to live in the way they want.
“There are actions we can all take to help those living with dementia and steps we can take to learn more about what it is like for those living with dementia and their families.
“There can be a stigma associated with dementia and by becoming a Dementia Friend you gain a deeper insight into how it can affect people and what you personally, and as a community, can do to help.”
Awareness of dementia has been raised nationally this month, thanks to Ross Kemp’s ITV series “Living with Dementia”, featuring people of all ages, including celebrities such as Dame Barbara Windsor. There are believed to be around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.
Alice is part of Cartmell Shepherd’s large Private Client team who provide Wills, Probate and Inheritance advice across all its offices in Northumberland and Cumbria. She helps clients in towns, villages, and communities all along the A69 corridor, from Haltwhistle to Prudhoe.
Alice said: “Being a private client solicitor it’s important that we can help people who are living with dementia and their families.
“We have clients who worry about how dementia affects them legally and what it means for them in certain circumstances, such as putting in place Lasting Powers of Attorney.
“Being a Dementia Friend means being able to reassure people and advise people that they can speak to us about any issue.
“Some people with dementia might not contact a solicitor because they are concerned that they won’t be able to do certain things.
“But my advice would be to always contact us. We are well qualified to help and to support people living with dementia and are able to give them and their families the advice they need on how to proceed.
“It will always depend on a case by case basis. But people who perhaps think they are not able to make a Will, for example, are able to. We would always say to give us a ring and we will help and advise.
“Cartmell Shepherd has a very caring, sensitive and empathetic approach to clients, which is really important when you are dealing with people who are living with dementia.
“We are also often helping people at a very emotional time in their life such as when they are making a Will, or maybe they have lost a loved one.
“In our communities, as well as the individual you are dealing with, you also often know the whole family, which makes that caring, friendly and supportive approach so important.”
Alice, who lives with fiancé Robbie, a trainee GP, and their two miniature dachshunds Evie and Lola, also encourages us all to be more understanding to those living with dementia when we are going about our daily lives.
“If you are in the supermarket and you see someone who is struggling and taking a while with their shopping, take a bit of time to help.”
Alice, who graduated from Northumbria University before becoming a solicitor, is hoping the community spirit which has come to the fore during the coronavirus pandemic will continue as lockdown starts to ease.
“We have seen neighbours and communities rally round to help people, such as helping with their shopping.
“I hope that continues and that it will mean people are more understanding and more willing to help those who are living with dementia as well.”
Deborah Flynn Director and Head of the Wills, Probate and Inheritance team at Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, said: “At Cartmell Shepherd we encourage our team to learn more about dementia. We help, support and advise many vulnerable clients and their families and it’s extremely important that we fully understand their situation.
“Alice, and many of the team at Cartmell Shepherd, have taken the time and effort to become Dementia Friends, which we think as a company is really important to best help those in our community, both in our professional and our personal lives.
“There has been a lot of publicity lately about dementia, and what life is like living with dementia for individuals and also for their families.
“At Cartmell Shepherd we are proud to do all that we can to help support anyone living with dementia.”
Jonathan Lee 32West