If a life changing decision needed to be made on your behalf, would you be prepared? Appointing someone to make these decisions is not difficult but can be often overlooked. At times having the discussion with an aging family member or friend can cause awkwardness and hostility. They can feel as if independence is being taken away, but this is not the case. The best tool to protect yourself or a senior is a legal document called a power of attorney (POA). Whether you are a senior or the caregiver for you’re an aging loved one, you should have a power of attorney, or POA, designating someone to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. But what is a power of attorney, and why is it important?
What It Does
A power of attorney allows someone you appoint to act on your behalf if you are unable to speak for yourself or make decisions. It is a legal document; however, you can create a POA without the assistance of a lawyer. The important thing to remember is you or your loved one must be capable of making your own decisions to create one; if you wait until your senior experiences mental decline, he or she may not be able to legally sign a power of attorney. This can cause problems when medical and financial decisions cannot be made due to legality.
Not every power of attorney is the same. You can choose to create one for financial decisions or health care, or both. You may also want to have an advance medical directive, such as a living will, which can protect wishes for end-of-life decisions. You can personalize your POA to address your concerns, especially if you have assets or property you would like managed in a particular way.
Why It’s Important
When assistance is needed to make decisions about health care or finances, a power of attorney may speak on someone’s behalf, which offers control and protection. A power of attorney can pay bills, write checks, talk to medical providers, and function in other practical ways.
If you have not created a power of attorney, your wishes may not even be considered. Typically, a court would have to determine if you a guardian is required to act on your behalf, which can be expensive and time-consuming. The court may designate someone who does not know the situation and may not have any information about preferences.
With a power of attorney, you have the freedom to choose your representative and provide that peace of mind insurance. It can also help families honor desires without the added stress of making such important decisions.
You and your senior may need guidance about creating a power of attorney, personal care, and other aspects of maintaining quality of life. Home Helpers is here for you with the support and care you need, from finding a caregiver for companionship to dementia and Alzheimer’s care. See how we can help you or your loved one age with dignity.