Content approved by Jerry Parker
Caring for aging parents is a common situation for adult children. This situation can be the cause of significant stress for a variety of reasons. Learning about caregiving, including (legal) aspects of aging, will help you navigate the situation more successfully. Important issues such as decisional capacity, power of attorney, health care proxy, (nursing home abuse), and (fraud) will need attention to ensure that (elderly) family members are safe.
Ideally, you should make legal plans for caring for elderly parents before you need to utilize the plans. This is crucial because it ensures that the elderly family member(s) will be able to participate fully in the planning stage. If an illness occurs that diminishes mental capacity and makes it impossible for this cooperative planning, you’ll be forced to do it without your family member’s input. This would make it necessary to guess about many things, which isn’t ideal. Preplanning also gives you time to research the (law) and proceed through potentially complex financial issues.
What is Decisional Capacity?
Decisional capacity refers to a family member’s ability to make important legal and financial decisions. With aging, it’s common for capacity to decrease gradually. Some (elderly) people also experience a decline in some areas while staying strong in others. A physician can help with evaluating capacity of a senior family member, which can help with a health diagnosis, treatment options, and long-term prognosis.
Review and Update Frequently
After devising a care plan, be ready to review it regularly. Health can change quickly or it may evolve slowly, and the care plan will need to stay in step with health needs. Other changes can occur, such as a death in the family, relocation, loss of employment, and more. When a change in personal circumstances impacts the care plan, update the plan and any associated documents.
Tips for Memory Care Patients
People with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease need special precautions in place to protect their assets. These patients are at risk for fraud if other people take advantage of them. Often, caregivers will create a system that gives the patient limited access to funds to pay bills and make small purchases. The plan will safeguard accounts, retirement funds, and stocks to keep these funds intact. It may also be possible to create a cosigning account to require multiple signatures for withdrawals.
Partners in Care
A “partners in care” relationship between caregiver and elderly parent is an ideal way to manage the situation. This allows the parent to maintain control and independence for as long possible with the caregiver stepping in only when necessary. Both parties can work together to plan for the future and take care of daily needs. The caregiver assumes a position of assistant only until a larger role is necessary.
Differences Between Guardian and Conservator
A guardian has the (legal) authority to make all decisions about another person’s wellbeing. This role is customary for parents with children, and it can also apply to adult children with an elderly parent. A guardian decides where a person lives, what medical treatment they will receive, and any activities for participation. A conservator is granted legal authority to manage someone else’s financial affairs.
Manage Expenses with Insurance
Long-term care insurance can be a worthwhile investment to ensure that an elderly person’s health care needs are met. Ideally, you will have this insurance in place before you need it. This type of insurance can help pay for nursing home care, home health care, and medications. Different plans have different price points and benefits, so it’s important to compare several policies before choosing one. Veterans will often be eligible for financial support and health care coverage. Once you have insurance policies in place, gather all the documentation and keep it in a safe place.
Seek Legal Advice
Seeking legal advice can be helpful when ironing out a care plan, especially if several siblings are involved. An unbiased professional can assess the entire situation and provide recommendations for planning for future needs. It’s also important to set up a power of attorney for a loved one while the elderly family member still has decisional capacity, and an attorney can assist with this process. Drawing up a will is another important step that will usually entail the assistance of an attorney. A health care proxy gives a caregiver the legal authority to make all medical decisions. An elderly patient can appoint an individual to serve as a health care proxy to make medical decisions on their behalf.
Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, psychological, and financial. A caregiver must remain vigilant to ensure that an elderly family member is not harmed in any way. The abuse may come from staff in a nursing home or home health care, it could occur with family members, or it can even happen with strangers in the form of financial (fraud). If elder abuse is suspected, take immediate steps to safeguard your family member.
- A Guide to Caring for Elderly Parents
- A Late-Life Surprise: Taking Care Of Frail, Aging Parents
- Am I Responsible for My Aging Parents?
- New Caregivers: How to Prepare and What to Expect
- A Siblings’ Guide to Caring for Aging Parents
- How to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Estate Planning & Advance Care
- Assisting Aging Loved Ones With Estate Planning
- Caring for Elderly Parents’ Estate and Finances
- Estate Planning: Everything You Need to Know
- How to Protect Your Elderly Parents from Fraud
- A Complete Guide to Elder Financial Abuse
- Elder Abuse
- Protecting Your Parents From Elder Fraud
- How to Protect Aging Parents From Elder Financial Abuse
- Elder Fraud & Financial Abuse
- Elder Abuse Statistics & Facts
- Fraud in the Family
- 10 Ways to Stop Financial Elder Fraud
- What is a Power of Attorney and Why Do Seniors Need One?
- When Should You Get Power of Attorney For a Parent?
- A Guide To Power Of Attorney For Your Parents
- How to Get Power of Attorney for a Parent
- Legal Checklist for Caregivers
- 7 Tips for Caring for Aging Parents
- 7 Resources When Caring for an Elderly Parent
- Caregiver Tips – How to Care for Aging Parents
- Six Tips to Prepare for Your Aging Parents’ Future