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Legal considerations for seniors and their families
Tips from the senior homecare experts at Comfort Keepers
As your loved one ages, you may become primarily concerned with their physical health or mental health, or making sure they can remain engaged with family and friends. In fact, one of the top items on your to-do list in caring for a senior loved one is making sure their legal needs are met, too. If your aging loved one is being cared for through senior homecare, you already have an expert at your disposal who can help you work through compiling necessary documents and accessing resources that will help you and your loved one plan for the future.
Next, make a plan to care for any unmet needs in your aging loved one’s life. Primarily, if they don’t have a will or power of attorney document, you want to take care of that as soon as possible, while your loved one is still in good health and can clearly communicate their desires. Senior homecare providers know that discussing these legal issues might feel uncomfortable, but the alternative is being unprepared for your loved one’s future and possibly getting their wishes or intentions wrong. Having these conversations sooner rather than later means that you can be sure you understand your loved one’s desires for their future.
Your aging loved one might choose an advance health care directive, which helps a senior specify what kind of care services or medical intervention should be provided in the case that they become seriously ill, incapacitated, or unable to communicate. These directives can specify particular facilities or care providers that your aging loved one would prefer or indicate that senior care at home is their preferred mode of care.
Your loved one should consider whether they prefer a living will or a power of attorney for health care. These two documents operate differently, but both can specify who can make decisions on behalf of your loved one, and the scope of what those decisions can be. Both become effective when your loved one can no longer communicate or advocate for themselves.
You can help your aging loved one by compiling all of their legal, financial, and identity documents in clearly marked files and organized in a central location. The senior home care providers at Comfort Keepers recommend a single filing cabinet clearly marked, or an accordion file. Documents you should keep in good order include real estate documents, like mortgages and property deeds, financial documents, and identity documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, and licenses.
Always consult a lawyer regarding your family’s specific needs.