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How To Handle Power of Attorney When It Comes To Elderly with Dementia

couple writing up power of attorney before dementia care

A POA is a power of attorney. A power of attorney gives a specified individual the power to make decisions for someone who may need dementia care. A POA document should be drafted by a lawyer.

The individual chosen to be your POA will make decisions about your loved one’s property, finances, and medical choices if your loved one is unable to make them for yourself. A POA may also be a part of an advance directive or a living will, which tells of your wishes regarding treatment if you are unable to verbalize your wishes later in life.

Two Types of POA

There are two types of POA used when dealing with the elderly with dementia. The two types of POAs are healthcare POAS and financial POAs. Many individuals who are elderly with dementia need a POA for both circumstances.

Healthcare POA

The healthcare POA gives an agent the responsibility of making healthcare decisions for the principal, who is the person being treated. The agent is usually a relative or trusted friend who has chosen to take responsibility for the healthcare decisions that need to be made for aging parents with dementia. Some legal advisers call the healthcare POA a guardianship. The guardian can decide where the elderly with dementia live, what they eat, who bathes them and make other decisions about the agent’s medical care.

Financial POA

A financial POA, or Conservator, gives a relative or trusted friend the capabilities to take care of financial issues such as:

  • Paying for health care and other personal needs such as housing
  • Filing taxes
  • Making investment decisions
  • Paying bills
What Can a POA Do?

What to do if a person is elderly with dementia? How can you help your loved one with their medical needs and assets if they can’t make decisions themselves? A POA can be changed by the individual being protected at any time. Be sure that your attorney knows that you are changing an existing POA so they can word the document accordingly. The person does have to be legally competent to change their POA. So if your family has a history of dementia, it is crucial for family members to have a POA in place before they need dementia care.

How to Change a POA

A POA must be changed while the individual concerned is still competent. Everyone should have a will, and everyone should have a POA that determines who will be responsible for their estate and medical decisions if they die or are incapable of making such decisions. The sooner a durable power of attorney document is created, the sooner your aging parent can be cared for. Once the Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is confirmed, the grantor is not legally able to choose who will make decisions for them. The person being protected must be able to understand what they are signing.

The durable power of attorney can be created to go into effect when the grantor can’t make decisions anymore, or it can go into effect immediately. The grantor can make the decision about when the power of attorney goes into effect. If there is any doubt about a grantor’s competency, they may need a note from a physician that indicates that they are still able to make the choice of who will make decisions if they need dementia care.

If the person in question is no longer able to make crucial health care or financial decisions, a family member or close friend may still be able to become a conservator. Becoming a conservator can become a lengthy and costly legal process. Still, if you need to care for someone that is elderly with dementia, becoming a conservator may be necessary.

To get help with a Power of Attorney question in the Gulf Breeze, Florida area, contact your local attorney for more information.