This is possibly one of the most sensitive issues people face when cognitive decline hits the tipping point and becomes debilitating. For example the patient may not realize the level of assistance they require. They have been slowly adapting to their progressive disease and at a certain point do not realize that what they are doing is unhealthy. The patient may not be cooking because they are forgetting to turn the stove off when they do or they cannot drive anymore to get groceries. A trusted family member with Power of Attorney (POA) can make decisions on behalf of the patient that is in their best interest. This article will give a brief overview of what a Power of Attorney is and what timeline is most commonly suggested for its implementation. Angel Care does not give legal advice and any decisions of this nature should be worked out with an attorney.
There are different types of power of attorney.
There is the legal power of attorney called a "Durable General Power of Attorney" and the medical power of attorney called the "Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Health Care Proxy and Medical Directive."
THE DURABLE GENERAL POWER OF ATTORNEY IS GRANTED BY THE PRINCIPAL TO SOMEONE THEY TRUST CALLED THE "ATTORNEY-IN-FACT.”
The "Durable General Power of Attorney" covers such things as, to draw and deposit monies from bank accounts and safety deposit boxes; to ask, demand, sue for, recover, collect and receive all such sums of money, debts, dues, accounts, legacies, bequests, interests, dividends, annuities and demands whatsoever; to make, receive, endorse, exercise, acknowledge, deliver, possess, do and transact all and every kind of business of whatever nature and kind for and in Attorney-in Fact's name and as Attorney-in-Fact act and deed; and to sign, seal, execute, deliver and acknowledge such applications, contracts, agreements, options, covenants, conveyances, deed, trust deeds, security agreements, bills of sale, indentures, hypothecations, leases, mortgages, stock certificates, proxies, warrants, conversion rights, commercial paper, receipts, releases and judgments, securities, withdrawal receipts and deposit instruments relating to accounts or deposits in, or certificates of deposit of banks, savings and loan or other institutions of associations, proofs of loss, evidences of debt, releases and satisfactions of mortgages, liens, judgments, security and other debts and obligations and such other instruments in writing, of whatever kind and nature as may be necessary or proper in the exercise of the rights and powers herein granted.
THE DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTHCARE, HEALTH CARE PROXY AND MEDICAL DIRECTIVE IS ALSO GIVEN BY THE PRINCIPAL TO SOMEONE THEY TRUST CALLED AN "ATTORNEY-IN-FACT.”
It covers all health care and needs, medical, residence, companion and life and death wishes. If the Principal is conscious and capable enough to participate in medical treatment decisions then the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is not effective.
Usually 3 Attorneys-in-Fact are named in case some cannot be found or have died.
THESE DOCUMENTS SHOULD BE WRITTEN BY A COMPETENT ATTORNEY.
According to an article in Alzheimers.net “… many caregivers do not understand the importance of living wills and powers of attorney until it’s too late. Because of the nature of the disease, executing these documents can become an ethical issue if they are not done in a timely manner.” The National Institute on Aging has a website where they stress the importance of advanced legal planning as soon as possible after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “Many people are unprepared to deal with the legal and financial consequences of a serious illness such as Alzheimer's disease. Legal and medical experts encourage people recently diagnosed with a serious illness—particularly one that is expected to cause declining mental and physical health—to examine and update their financial and health care arrangements as soon as possible. Basic legal and financial instruments, such as a will, a living trust, and advance directives, are available to ensure that the person's late-stage or end-of-life health care and financial decisions are carried out.”
This article is brought to you by Angel Care Nurse Registry