Family Matters: 3 Important Points to Remember Regarding Elder Care and Planning for the Future

Are you responsible for the care of an elder? Helping an elderly loved one to live safely and comfortably is a rewarding experience. It can also be stressful, but making preparations for future possibilities and eventualities helps you to cope.

Keep the following points in mind as you strive to provide the very best elder care, now and in the future.

Legal issues should be a priority

Immediately begin getting legal tools in place to help safe-guard an elder’s finances, property and health. It is easier for you to sort through the details if you use the services of an experienced elder law attorney. Take advantage of the convenience of legal services on the go in instances where the elder is unable or unwilling to make the trip to the attorney’s office.

Necessary legal documents include a last will and testament which usually concerns distribution of assets after the elder dies. There are also advance directives pertaining to healthcare if the elder becomes incapable of communicating their wishes or is no longer competent enough to make medical decisions. Advance directives include a living will; a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order; and the more detailed Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).

Other documents include power of attorney (POA) in which the elder selects someone to make decisions regarding their medical care, finances or both. A POA can take effect immediately or when the elder becomes incapable of decision-making. Without a POA, family members wishing to legally take charge of the elder’s affairs will have to go through the long and costly process of seeking guardianship.

Advance directives apply to you, too

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of caregiving and the long-term planning required to ensure that the financial, medical and social needs of your loved one are met. Plus, it is normal to think that you will outlive your parents or senior relatives … but that is not always the case.

Stop to think of what would happen to the elder in your charge if something should happen to you – accident, illness or death. All the legal documents you have secured for the elder should also be in place for you to ensure that their care continues in a manner both you and they would prefer.

Involve the elder as much as possible

Maintaining a sense of independence is important to elders and that usually involves taking care of their own affairs. As long as the elder is still of sound mind and can understand the implications of the decisions set down in the legal documents, then you should discuss all the options with them.

If the elder is resistant to discussing the issues, then seek help reaching out to them. Their doctor, religious leader, an elder care attorney or a friend they trust (who has perhaps gone through all the same processes) are good choices to call upon.

Elder care involves more than just the here and now. Events can arise which leave you overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a caregiver. Plan for these situations as best as you can by having all necessary legal documentation in place.


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