By Pamela D. Wilson, The Care Navigator, CSA, CG, MS, BS/BA
When is a good time for preparing for the unexpected? How many of you are familiar with the term power of attorney? How many of you have completed power of attorney documents for medical and financial needs? How many of you have completed your will? If you don’t have these documented completed, you’re in the majority. Statistics show that less than 20% of individuals have completed these documents. Delays in completing these documents occur for three main reasons; 1) we’re not sure who to appoint for this important role, 2) we don’t understand the importance of having these documents and 3) we don’t believe we’re old enough to need them.
Who to appoint? Parents as much as they love their children tell me they don’t have adult children they view as financially or personally responsible enough to serve as power of attorney. On the other hand there are stories in the news daily about children who were appointed power of attorney and abused the privilege by stealing money and dumping parents into nursing homes after selling their homes and their property. Who to appoint? This is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. If family isn’t a good choice, there are professionals who serve in this role. Professionals, especially if there are family rivalries or disagreements, are often the better choice as they will ensure that wishes placed in writing are carried out according to plan.
Who needs these documents? Everyone over the age of 21 should have power of attorney documents and a will in the event of an unexpected event. The documents can always be revised and changed during a lifetime.
Car accidents, sporting accidents, accidents in the home happen every day. If you were involved in an accident and seriously injured who would make decisions about your health? Have you told anyone what you’d want if you were put on a machine whose only purpose was to sustain your life? Who would pay your bills if you became unconscious or in a coma or if you were in an accident and sustained a brain injury resulting in an inability to make decisions?
These are the realities of unexpected events on our lives. Yet most of us don’t believe anything unexpected will happen so we don’t take action to prepare legal documents giving someone we trust permission to act in our best interest if we cannot. Completing these documents isn’t a factor of age or of having a lot of money to manage. Completing these documents is plain old good sense. Once you have them you can put them away and not think about them again until the need arises, hopefully many years into the future.
The Care Navigator serves caregiving families and individuals in Metro Denver and the Colorado Front Range. Through The Caring Generation®, a one of a kind online community of support for family and professional caregivers, Pamela D. Wilson offers an extensive library of expert interviews, educational podcasts, videos, articles and a forum to allow caregivers to connect with others in similar situations.
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