Caring For Elderly Parents Catches Many Unprepared

Start With The Paperwork

While many parents lack an advance care directive, it's the most basic and important step they can take. The directive includes several parts: a durable power of attorney, which gives someone legal authority to make financial decisions on another's behalf; a health care proxy, which is similar to the power of attorney, except it allows someone to make decisions regarding medical treatment; and a living will that outlines instructions for end-of-life care. (For example, parents can say if they want to be kept alive by artificial measures.)

An advance care directive is the first line of defense if a situation arises. Without one, the family will have to petition the court to be appointed the parent's legal guardian, which is time and cost (both actual and emotional) consuming.

This is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It also alerts adult children to their parents preferences.

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