Why is the Power of Attorney Document Important for the Elderly?

Most of us value our privacy.  When we grow older and need more help, our desire for privacy doesn’t go away.  It can be very uncomfortable for many senior citizens to hand the reins of their life over to junior to make life and death decisions for them with a Power of Attorney document.  If you’re the senior or if you’re junior, what is the best way to pass the torch?

Many elderly people realize as they grow older they might, some day, need help.  They’re open to moving forward to set up their affairs and allow a loved one to become a potential power of attorney for their health care and finances.  The first step in this direction is choosing someone they trust.

In my parents situation, I had to encourage them to make preparations.  Dad drug his feet.  He believed, making a will and setting up a potential power of attorney was admitting he would have to meet the grim reaper some day.

I kept encouraging them without trying to be pushy.  I explained, if they didn’t do something, I would be in a mess to try to deal with the important things in their lives, such as health care and financial decisions.  If they should become seriously ill, and unable to take care of their bills, without a power of attorney which could be enacted, we’d have to go through the court system.  Anyone who has been involved in the legal system knows it isn’t a quick easy endeavor, or cheap.  If they weren’t able to take care of themselves, they would need someone to step in, right away, to pay their bills and make health care decisions for them.

Mom, being a woman of action, took the reins and made the appointment with the lawyer.  Before they went, we talked it over.  I wasn’t excited about being the power of attorney.  I’d have been the logical one, since I’m the only one of their children in town.  They, also, had concerns about putting me in the position because of sibling rivalry which might flare up.  We decided, it was a logical step to put my husband in charge.  They trust him completely.  He is a very fair minded, loving, compassionate, decision making man.  He’s, also, not a sibling and wouldn’t buckle under pressure.

Even though it was uncomfortable for Dad to make these decisions about their future, I believe it was also a relief to get it taken care of.  It is comforting to have our lives in order….just in case.

15 years later, Mom and Dad’s health failed about the same time.  They had set up their Power of Attorneys for the one who was well to take care of the other one who was sick.  If they were unable to do so, my husband was next in line.  As it turned out, he needed to step into those shoes within a month of each other.  Without this valuable decision already made, I know it wouldn’t have gone as smoothly as it did.  Both of my parents’ health declined rapidly and they both suffer from dementia.  They are presently living in a care facility.  They were able to stay in their home, with help, until Dad was 88 and Mom was 83.

It doesn’t matter what age we are.  Our crystal ball will never tell us when disaster, failing health, or mental conditions might make it impossible for us to take care of ourselves or our spouse.  It is comforting to know, when we are unable to do so, a smooth transition of responsibility can happen. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to give up a bit of our privacy to our responsible loved one to have this peace of mind?

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One Response to “Why is the Power of Attorney Document Important for the Elderly?”

  1. Cool information. Choosing the correct attorney is so hard sometimes. This helps a lot.

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