If you’re caring for an aging loved one, making legal plans for their end-of-life care is a customary part of care. Especially if your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of memory loss, legal considerations could be necessary to ensure your loved one’s health, safety and well-being.
“Seniors or their adult children might shy away from elder law considerations and end-of-life planning,” says Carmen Duren, Executive Director at Provident Village at Canton in Canton, GA. “However, we encourage families to make these legal decisions as soon as possible, before a serious accident forces them to rush into a decision they haven’t though out.
“It’s wise to understand different types of legalities surrounding senior care, so when the time comes, you’ll be well prepared to make the decisions – or help your loved one make decisions – that respect their values and wishes.”
Protecting Your Loved One’s Well-Being
Living wills, power of attorney and guardianships are all worth considering as your loved one ages or their Alzheimer’s progresses. According to the Mayo Clinic, living wills and other advanced directives describe your loved one’s preferences for end-of-life care, speaking for them when they’re not able to speak for themselves.
If your loved one ever enters a situation in which they are unable to make proper decisions for their own health, these legal mandates give a trusted person (either yourself or a close friend or family member) the right to make decisions on their behalf:
- Living Wills – A living will, also known as an advanced directive, is a written document that states how your loved one would like to be cared for if they become terminally ill, incapacitated or cannot communicate their health care wishes.
A living will legally ensures that they receive the health care and treatments that they prefer, even if they are unable to communicate. To ensure that the wishes stated in a living will are carried out by health care providers, they can name a trusted loved one as their Power of Attorney to make sure their wishes are respected.
- Power of Attorney – Naming someone Power of Attorney (POA) gives that person the legal power to manage and make decisions about your loved one’s care and finances should they become unable to. A POA is usually a spouse or trusted family member who understands their wishes and will make decisions that are in their best interest.
While a POA is responsible for making decisions on your loved one’s behalf, they cannot override your loved one’s decisions if they are still capable of making them. Choosing a POA should be handled carefully, as he or she may be responsible for making life-altering decisions. Communication with a POA is vital in order to ensure they understand your loved one’s preferences and concerns regarding the management of their health care.
- Guardianship – Guardianship over a loved one who is mentally incapacitated due to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is granted by a judge through a court proceeding. Just as with minor children, legal guardianship of an older loved one gives you the right to make decisions about their living situation, health care and finances.
Guardianship is often the solution if your loved one can no longer make safe decisions about their own well-being. For example, if your loved one lives alone in an unsafe condition and refuses care or assistance, guardianship may be the best option for your family. Guardianship is also granted if your loved one is unable to legally sign power of attorney documents due to their mental state.
To obtain legal guardianship, your loved one must be proven mentally incapacitated (usually through examination by a psychologist), and the court must decide that you would make an appropriate guardian. The court will consider whether you would make appropriate decision about your loved one’s medical treatment, finances and long-term care.
You can learn more about guardianships at Alzheimer’s.net.
If your loved one’s situation does not require you to obtain legal guardianship over their care, it’s still important to address living wills and power of attorney while they are still able to make sound decisions for themselves, either shortly after their diagnosis or while they’re in the early stages of the disease. Making legal preparations well in advance will allow your loved one to have say in their end-of-life care.
Care for Today and Confidence for Tomorrow
Whether your loved one needs help learning about elder law considerations or you want to know more about obtaining a legal guardianship, Provident Village at Canton can help. “We’re proud to be a trusted resource for seniors and their families,” says Duren, “and we work with our partners in the community to help you find the services you need to care for your loved one. Visit our online events calendar regularly to see what educational seminars are coming up.
“If there comes a time when your loved one’s needs grow beyond the care you can provide, assisted living or memory care might be the best solution. Our Memory Care Neighborhood offers a comprehensive, secure, dignified approach to caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss. And all of our residents benefit from our community’s unique philosophy of vibrant living! From care plans to daily activities, we help each resident enjoy meaningful, vibrant days.”
Live Vibrantly! at Provident Village at Canton
At Provident Village at Canton, we believe vibrant days ensure bright tomorrows, so we’ve created a community where seniors, quite simply, Live Vibrantly! Whether it’s in our Assisted Living Community or Memory Care Neighborhood, each day we celebrate the individuality and strengths of each resident.
At Provident Village, to Live Vibrantly! means that days are filled with joy, vitality, growth and security. It means residents are socially active and personally empowered, with access to the personalized care and support they need to live fully. It means residing in a community where intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual and physical care are seamlessly integrated into everyday life.
Our compassionate Care Partners dedicate each day to enriching the lives of our residents. They customize the level of attention and activities to each resident’s specific needs and abilities. Our living environments are warm and inviting, with comfortable furnishings, beautiful fixtures and natural elements that bring the outdoors inside.