Radio 4 presenter's diagnosis a reminder to get affairs in order

BBC presenter and much-loved voice of Radio 4, Susan Rae, has just gone public with her Alzheimer's diagnosis - and with it the stark reminder came through of the importance of planning for later life.

Later life planning

Gaining vital information

The Herbert Protocol is a little-known scheme that encourages carers and family members of vulnerable loved ones suffering from diseases like Alzheimer's to gather vital information in one place. This information can then be accessed by the emergency services in the event that an individual goes missing - which is more common than you might think.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, two thirds of those living with dementia will do what's called "wandering" - as they lose their ability to recognise familiar places or are confused about where they are. They end up getting lost as they try to retrace their steps, or find a location that they remember from the past which may be long gone.

Message in a Bottle

Wandering can be very serious and even life threatening, so something like the Herbert Protocol - so called after war veteran George Herbert went missing and sadly died while he was on his way back to his childhood home - can offer some peace of mind.

Here in Surrey, the Council offer something similar - it is called the Message in a Bottle scheme. The kit, which is a form kept in the fridge along with stickers for the fridge door and the front door, helps the emergency services save time in being able to identify an individual quickly and knowing if they have any allergies or take medication.

The Message in a Bottle scheme is not just for those with Alzheimer's of course, anyone who could be vulnerable, likely to have an accident at home, liable to a fall or have significant health conditions, should also consider having a Message in a Bottle at home so that paramedics, police, firefighters of social services know to look in the fridge.

Getting your affairs in order

These are just some of the things that need to be considered as part of later life planning - and if you're a care-giver or you're concerned about a loved one living with Alzheimer's disease, having something like Message in a Bottle in place can offer some peace of mind.

You should also make sure any wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are up to date - especially as LPAs depend on the mental capacity of an individual - i.e. they can only be drafted and approved if doctors are convinced the individual is of sound mind at the time of writing.

If you would like some further information about wills and LPAs, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors for more information.


Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office