There comes a point when most of our nation’s elders will need assistance with various tasks, such as household management, bathing, dressing, medication management, meal preparation and eating, transferring, and/or using the restroom. In the past, such assistance was typically provided by family members, however, with the increased mobility of our society, it is now common for family members to be too physically distant to provide hands-on care
It is also common for an elder to be unwilling to move closer to their family, even if staying where they are means receiving care from someone other than their family members. Although the distance creates many hazards, steps can be taken to allow successful navigation of the minefield of legal, financial, and administrative issues that lie in wait for the long distance caregiver.
The most common legal issue associated with providing proper care and oversight from a distance involves establishing proper legal authority to ensure ongoing care in the event of incapacity of the elder. This legal issue can be easily resolved through the elder’s execution of a durable power of attorney and health care proxy. These documents give someone the elder chooses the authority to make financial and medical decisions on their behalf if they are incapacitated.
In addition, end of life decisions should be discussed with the elder, and their wishes should be memorialized in writing within the proper legal document. Ideally, the estate plan will also include a will, which provides clear instructions as to the disposition of the elder’s estate upon their passing away.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are caring for your aging parent from afar, call us, and we’ll help you set up the proper documents for their care.
Gina M. Barry, Esq.
Photo credit: Microsoft