Vulnerable and older individuals

Life is rarely straightforward. We all wear masks to cover over inner turmoil at points when it all feels too much.

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Life is rarely straightforward. We all wear masks to cover over inner turmoil at points when it all feels too much.

You might portray yourself to the outside world as robust, but inside you might be feeling vulnerable.

Vulnerability is not a sensation with a single, easy explanation. Sometimes it is caused by a diagnosed mental illness; for others the catalyst might be grief, addiction or depression. People with disabilities can be more prone to a sense of vulnerability because, even though the world has moved on so much in recent times, it can still seem like a hostile place. Old age or dementia are also common triggers, knocking the confidence of people who have hitherto been impervious to the stresses and strains of modern life.

While the reasons for feeling vulnerable are varied, the conversation which needs to take place to tackle the consequences is always essential. If you are close to someone in this situation you will need to address whether a vulnerable person is capable of making decisions for themself. If their mental capacity has deteriorated to such an extent that they can no longer make valid decisions, you need to reach a way of discussing whether they can give legal powers of attorney to someone else, usually a trusted close relative.

You might also want to discuss future care and other protective arrangements with an elderly or terminally ill relative before they become too infirm to have any valid input, even if this is an uncomfortable inevitability all of us would probably feel happier putting aside. While we all find it tough to broach the subject of cognitive impairment, it is incredibly important to overcome our quandaries and talk things through before it’s too late to formulate sensible plans. Without making your vulnerable friend or family member feel uneasy, you should find a way to plan and prepare for a decline, which might be unavoidable, whatever future scenario we would prefer.

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