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Monday, 20 November 2017 06:08

Who's Choosing Your Nursing Home? Featured

Who's Choosing Your Nursing Home

At any stage of your adult life it is important to put in place instructions about your future or your families future. This is even more important as you age or if you have elderly parents. The best know method of doing this is through a Will, which covers your instructions at the time of your death. To die without a Will leaves your loved ones in a difficult position that requires various legal processes to overcome the problem.

But what if you, your spouse or your parent is mentally or physically incapacitated and unable to attend to or make rational decisions about finances and care needs? For instance, your father has just been diagnosed with dementia and at some stage is going to lose capacity to operate his bank account, pay his bills or decide whether or not he needs residential care. Someone needs to be given authority to do these things on his behalf.

Fortunately there are legal documents which allow us solve this problem for our own benefit and for the peace of mind of our loved ones. The first of these is called an Enduring Power of Attorney, which is used to grant to a trusted person the power to make financial and property decisions on our behalf.

However, although important, it is not sufficient particularly if you are elderly, infirm or have serious medical problems. This document does not help with decisions about your medical care including end of life matters, determining your ability to manage independently at home or choosing a nursing home.

It is essential to appoint a trusted person to hold your Enduring Power of Guardianship who is able to make personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so by reason of mental or physical incapacity. In the event that someone needs to make care decisions for you and you do not have an Enduring Power of Guardianship document then, depending on circumstance, it is possible that the State Administrative Tribunal will need to appoint a guardian on your behalf.

If you have strong personal opinions about how you would like to be cared for if incapacitated including the amount of medical intervention at the time of a catastrophic illness such as a stroke then there is a third document you should consider. This is called an Advanced Health Directive or also known as a living will. This usually requires careful thought and planning with both medical and legal advice to cover potential future problems and your instructions that should apply to your care at the time.

A good first step is to go to the website of the Office of the Public Advocate: http://www.publicadvocate.wa.gov.au/E/enduring_power_of_guardianship.aspx?uid=3339-2085-8696-8396

Your family doctor is also a good place to get both general information about these issues and also more particular advice regarding the person’s health circumstances and mental capacity to grant these powers. It is strongly recommended that the documents be drawn up by a lawyer much like a Will would be done.

Thinking about these issues can be distressing and procrastination is common. However it is far more distressing for those who are left to manage your affairs when they are left with no direction. Get on to it today!