caring for elderly parent

Power of Attorney and Personal Directive for Seniors

Why are Power of Attorney and Personal Directive so Important for Seniors?

Bring up talk about legal documents and many people’s eyes begin to glaze over, especially if you’re a family caregiver. After all, you have enough to do caring for your senior loved one without worrying about complicated legal issues and paperwork, right? However, two legal documents can potentially be important in the life of family caregivers and the seniors for whom they care: Personal Directive and Power of Attorney.

Generally, a Power of Attorney “POA” is a legal document that gives an individual the power to act on another person’s behalf. In other words, having this document in place could give the older adult in your life the confidence in knowing that choices about their financial life would not be left in the hands of a stranger if they no longer could make decisions for themselves. A POA allows adults over the age of 18 to designate another adult to manage their financial affairs if, because of health issues, they couldn’t.

More specifically, an enduring POA is one that can stay in effect even when the individual can no longer make decisions on their own or loses capacity because of a physical, mental, or cognitive condition.

So why go through the hassle of putting these legal documents in place? Not doing so can creates a risk. For instance, if something happens to your loved one who does not have an enduring power of attorney, you may have to go to court to get the authority to handle that person’s financial affairs and that can take weeks to months.

  • POAs have the ability to give seniors who have them in place greater control over their lives. For example, if you were your mother’s POA and she could no longer handle her business affairs, you would have the authority to pay bills, manage her daily business dealings, manage property, file taxes and apply for public benefits such as CPP or GIS.

A Personal Directive is a “medical” power of attorney legal document.  In general, a Personal Directive makes one individual a healthcare Agent for another. Depending on the situation, this can allow the Agent to do, for example, the following:

  • Direct the medical care that someone needs. For instance, if your father was ill or needed surgery and you were his healthcare Agent, you could work with medical professionals to determine the type of care he receives, the doctors and care providers who treat him, and even where he lives while he recovers.

There are certain things POAs cannot do:

  • Change someone’s will
  • Make decisions after their death (unless, for example, the POA is also the executor of the will)
  • Change or transfer POA to someone else

Remember, it’s important for you to obtain such documents as well. All adults 18 and over need these documents to help ensure their wishes are carried out if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.  A terrific graduation present for those young adults in your life.

Posted by Admin-FCI in Seniors Health and Wellness, 0 comments

The Challenge of Aging Alone

Aging alone is a challenge many people face. You may be one of them. Most pre-retirees and retirees know that, as they age, there is a single solid support system they can absolutely count on: their adult children. But what happens when they don’t exist?  What happens if they are too busy or unreliable?  What happens if they are prone to helping themselves to your finances?

A solitary old age is, for many, a threatening prospect, something to be contemplated with a mixture of apprehension and outright fear. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are strategies which can be adopted to minimize the impact of a solitary old age. You need a multi-faceted “Go it Alone” plan.

The 2011 Census of Population counted nearly 5 million (4,945,000) seniors aged 65 and over in Canada. Of these individuals, 92.1% lived in private households or dwellings (as part of couples, alone or with others) while 7.9% lived in collective dwellings, such as residences for senior citizens or health care and related facilities.

Most people aged 65 and over lived in a couple with either a married spouse or a common-law partner during their early senior years.

2011 Census data showed that about one-quarter (24.6%) of the population aged 65 and over lived alone.  The share of the population that lived alone was fairly low and stable until about the age of 50 for women, and until approximately age 70 for men.  After these ages, the prevalence of living alone increased for both sexes, but more sharply for women.

Older single and childless people are at higher risk than those with children for facing medical problems, cognitive decline and premature death.

Suggestions:

  1. Establish a “virtual board of directors” – a network of friends, financial advisor, daily money manager, lawyer, accountant or other professionals you work with. They can assist you with care and decisions.  Also develop a plan of action if cognitive changes occur.
  2. Expand your social network – for those aging solo, expanding a social network is essential, according to experts on aging. Isolation contributes to depression, cognitive decline and a decline in overall health.

 

Posted by Admin-FCI in Seniors Health and Wellness, 0 comments

Proactive Seniors Article

Christmas is a great time to have a check-in to see how seniors and their children are each managing.  This is a conversation that should go in both directions, with consideration of everyone’s input and feelings.

Adult children can inquire about how their parent(s) are managing in their home or retirement community. Are they eating well and getting regular social contact?  Do they need any help taking care of the house, getting to appointments, managing their medications or with personal care such as bathing, dressing, cooking?  Is one parent the primary caregiver for the other? If so, how are they managing?

Conversely, seniors can inquire about how their adult children are managing. If the ‘kids’ are helping with any caregiving tasks, are they managing with those tasks?  Are they balancing their work, family and other commitments?  Do the adult children know who the parents power of attorney and personal directive agent are and where to find the will?  Are the adult children comfortable that they know their parents wishes regarding medical intervention or housing choices. Relationships are best preserved by making sure everyone is comfortable in their roles.

It is common for both spousal caregivers and adult children caregivers to under-recognize how challenging being a caregiver can be.  Providing regular support with meals, groceries, laundry, transportation to appointments, personal care and financial or household management can start to negatively impact one’s own health and wellness.  If the caregiver is feeling overwhelmed then it is important to seek help.  It might be time to bring outside support into the home and/or discuss options for care in an alternate location such as a retirement community.

Keeping the lines of communication open helps families to be proactive in making plans for the future and ensuring everyone stays healthy and happy.

An article from Proactive Seniors December newsletter – By Kathy Mendham

Posted by Admin-FCI in Seniors Health and Wellness, 0 comments