When our parents or other relatives grow older, it sometimes becomes necessary for us to take responsibility for their well-being. This can be a hard transition raising difficult questions: Where will your parents live if they can’t take care themselves, what kind of healthcare decisions should be made if the need arises, and who should make decisions if they become incapacitated are common concerns?
Elder law is a specialized area of law focusing on these and other issues. Here you can find articles on caring for aging parents’ in old age. This area can involve some difficult conversations and important decisions.
Making Preparations: Legal Options Available
When someone becomes too ill or infirm to make decisions, issues can arise over who should make those decisions for them and what those decisions should be. Disputes can lead to family arguments, bitter feelings, and lawsuits. Planning ahead and making wishes known is often the best solution for an elderly parent. There are a number of legal options available.
Advance Health Care Directive
An advance health care directive is a non-binding document specifying the maker’s desired health care decisions should he or she become incapacitated. It may cover resuscitation instructions, preferences for residential or in-home care, treatment option choices, and other matters. These directives generally aren’t binding, however – they merely state desires for the benefit of doctors and family members.
A living will is a binding legal document. The maker sets out instructions for doctors and family members to follow in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated. As with advance care directives, people often state when they want to end treatment and what kind of treatments they’d prefer to avoid.
Download a DIY living will form.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare
A power of attorney for healthcare grants someone else the authority to make healthcare and end-of-life decisions. An elderly person might know whom they trust to make decisions rather than what to decide, but the grant can give instructions as well. It’s often used to give decision-making powers to an unmarried partner.
Download a DIY power of attorney form.
Financial Power of Attorney
This grants someone the power to manage financial affairs. Elderly patients may lose the ability to keep track of taxes, manage investments, and apply for and receive benefits. Financial power of attorney empowers someone else to perform these tasks.
When other options don’t exist or can no longer be made, a court can step in and appoint a guardian. Legal guardians can make all sorts of decisions for an elderly person, from healthcare decisions to living arrangements. Generally, the other options mentioned are preferable to going through the lengthy guardianship process, but it’s available if necessary.
Healthcare and Living Arrangements
Aging parents’ healthcare and living arrangements are important topics too. These decisions will affect the everyday life and happiness of elderly people and their families. Elder law attorneys frequently are asked for advice and assistance on these topics.
Many people opt to receive in-home care. This allows them to stay in their home while receiving health care assistance. It’s best suited for people who need care but don’t have critical issues. There are other options available, such as adult daycare. Many groups and services support elderly people living in their homes as well.
Residential care is another option. These facilities can provide supervision for aging parents with more critical healthcare needs or company for those who don’t want to be alone. Cost can be an issue, and there are options such as reverse mortgages and insurance packages out there.
Getting Legal Help
Elder law attorneys specialize in these and other issues. Consider contacting one to discuss concerns that might affect you and your aging parents or if other needs arise.