A homecare worker appeared every day and dutifully recorded in the official log how much Mrs Stevenson had enjoyed her tea. It was only later her daughter discovered the stack of mouldering meals, untouched in a cupboard where her mother had left them each day. "I just didn't have a clue about any of this," she says. "I thought whatever package of homecare was being offered must be the best one, so I would just take it."
The same applied to daycare, where Mrs Stevenson, only 54 when she was diagnosed in 2007, was sent to a day centre with much older people.
Like many other carers Mrs Brown didn't know enough to ask why. "I have four kids and I was living 90 miles from my mum. There are other people in my situation in their mid-30s, who have kids and are trying to hold down a job – and they don't know what to do."
One of the biggest things she did not know anything about was what to do as her mother became incapable of either taking decisions or telling others who she wanted to take them on her behalf.
By the time Mrs Stevenson died, just three years later, her solicitor daughter had been on a steep learning curve.
Fortunately, she was in a position to make a difference. As a property lawyer, she was used to waiting for business to come to her. But she realised she could take help to people who needed it. She set up her own company to specialise in guidance on legal and care issues. In particular, she helps those seeking power of attorney – which allows someone to appoint a friend or relative to take decisions on their behalf; or guardianship which allows a similar arrangement, usually where a person is no longer in a position to make their own wishes clear.
The logic was simple, she says. "I had made some mistakes. So I was in a position to say to people, 'In my personal experience, I wouldn't do it like that'."
Setting up her own practice was a daunting prospect, though, made more daunting when she quit her job, expecting a colleague who had agreed to be her partner in the enterprise to hand in her notice too. The former colleague and friend got cold feet and backed out. Their friendship has never recovered.
So Mrs Brown went on alone, setting up Caritas Legal Services – which last month won a prestigious Chairman's award at the Scottish Law Awards, as well as the title Up and Coming Law Firm of the Year.
She is passionate about the need for more people to plan ahead, regardless of projections for a rise in the numbers of older people with dementia. It isn't just in later life people need to make decisions about power of attorney, she says. One client was incapacitated in a car crash in his 30s, other cases involve families with adult children incapacitated by a learning disability.
"Everyone should get power of attorney. It is more important than a will, really," she says. Decisions affected can range from what someone wears, or eats, to whether they have intravenous medication, or can be artificially fed.
For people in some ethnic minorities, such as Sikhs, having someone taking decisions who understands their culture is really important, she points out.
"If you don't have a will, you are not going to be here at the end of the day. But without power of attorney, you will be alive and someone is going to be making decisions for you. That could be a social worker, for example."
Since launching Caritas last December, 70% of her cases have been people with a dementia diagnosis.
She specialises in making it easy for clients, who she knows from her own experience will put off facing up to reality. She denied to herself the signs her mother was becoming unwell. So she makes the service accessible, dresses down, drives to see clients rather than insisting they come to her, and is up front about cost.
"If you are looking after a spouse 24 hours a day, getting legal advice is daunting," she says.
People avoid facing unpalatable truths, she points out. "We always assume the person with dementia will die first. But the carer can be more stressed and under more pressure. That matters because if the carer is a spouse and goes first, the person with dementia inherits everything and often goes into care. Then everything goes into the cost of care.
"I've had kids on the phone weeping and wailing because they are not going to get anything. That's not what they want, but more importantly it's not what the parents would have wanted."
Anyone would want to make the lives of carers easier, having seen some of the things she has seen. One 84-year-old man she knew collapsed on the bathroom floor and his wife, 83, couldn't get him up, so she lay down beside him for hours until a carer came in to help.
"It is amazing the roles some people take on," she says. "Some get a £59 carer allowance for that 24-hour job, but it stops as soon as you get your pension."
Not all feel the same way. One woman rang to ask if she had a legal obligation to look after her husband. She wanted to know if she could be charged with a crime if she simply walked out on him.
"Some days I go home and wonder, 'Why do I feel so down?'" Mrs Brown says. But for the most part helping people and ensuring help is affordable are their own reward – legal aid is available for guardianship, which she says can be free but should cost no more than £600. Some practices charge upwards of £6000 for the service.
So far, it has been more than a job. On Christmas Eve last year, she ended up taking her daughter with her as she visited a client whose husband had died on their 60th wedding anniversary. If she didn't, who would?
"At its best, you can help carers find piece of mind, choose good care and get a bit of time back for themselves," she says. "It goes way beyond being a solicitor. But what are you going to do?"
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