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Article by Andrew Hitchon, Wills Trusts & Probate Partner, based at Market Harborough.

A colleague of mine in our Personal Injury department sent me the link to an interesting report recently.  It’s a report about brain injury, published by healthcare intelligence provider Wilmington Healthcare and UKABIF (the United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum).

My response?  “Why are you sending me a report about brain injury?  Did you send this to the wrong person?”

Curiosity got the better of me and I can see why it’s relevant to someone who advises people about things like Lasting Powers of Attorneys (LPAs) many times each week.  You can probably guess why the report was actually of interest to me, but it’s the statistics that made me sit up a little straighter and read on.

40% of hospital admissions in 2014/5 for traumatic brain injury (TBI) were for people aged over 75 and of these, 54.8% were because of a fall.

This really struck a chord with me.  Living and working in Market Harborough, where according to census data the average age of people is over 40, many of my friends, clients and just people that you meet around the place are approaching their 70s. The ones I know by name are all just as able as me and certainly as sharp thinking as I am, so it makes sense that brain injuries are primarily caused by falls.  Still, it shocked me a little that so many able-minded and able-bodied people are experiencing traumatic brain injuries.

In reply to my response, my colleague said that it reminded her to get an LPA sorted out.  She’s nowhere near 75, but the statistics surrounding falls and brain injury were surprising, even for someone who specialises in brain injury claims.

I know that as part of my job, I’m supposed to tell people that they should get an LPA – and I do, regularly!  But not to just ‘do my job’ – the consequences when you don’t have an LPA in place and then suffer an accident, even one as simple as a fall, can be devastating and I’ve witnessed it too many times.

LPAs let you appoint someone to make decisions for you, or take actions on your behalf when you aren’t able to.  There are two types: health and welfare, and property and financial affairs.  Together, they will allow someone you trust to pay your bills, cancel your car insurance, decide whether to agree to a new course of treatment if you’re in a coma, or make the decision to apply for you to be cared for at home (rather than go into care) if you start to lack mental capacity.

For more information about LPAs, please ask me.  I won’t force you to get one (promise) but I will make you aware of all their benefits.  If you’re still not sure if you need one, consider whether your parents might.

To read the report for yourself, visit: http://ukabif.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/NHiS-ABI-Report-Web.pdf and for other eye opening statistics, I also found this interesting infographic: http://ukabif.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ABI-Infographic-Proof-V3.pdf.