Taking care of an elder parent or relative is stressful. Not only do many people feel like they are giving up their relative, but their financial issues weigh more heavily on your mind, their well-being is always a question for you, and the reality of life and death seem to be staring you right in the face. When moving a parent or relative into an assisted care facility, you may be required to choose a person to be “responsible” for that parent as well, but this only raises more questions. Here are a few frequently asked questions about a “responsible party” for your parent or relative and who that person should be.
What is a “Responsible Party” or “Power of Attorney?”
Power of attorney is a legal term that gets thrown around a lot in today’s world. Essentially, power of attorney means that you have the power to make decisions for a certain individual. These decisions are often financial, but they could come down to life or death decisions as well. In the context of an assisted living facility, this term often means both a durable power of attorney, which means you focus only on specific issues. Medical decisions are often on the forefront of these issues, as well as financial decisions.
How to Choose a Financial Power of Attorney
When it comes to an assisted living facility, finances are often viewed as the most important things to protect. It is important to choose an agent that will not mismanage these finances or squander them unnecessarily. Generally, this power of attorney is given to a son or daughter of the person being placed in the living facility. This ensures that the resources can be kept within the family, or that they can otherwise be disposed of in a manner that the owner would want.
When it comes to assisted living facilities, the “responsible party” should be one that is able to be available to the employees and accounting members of the team at the facility. They should be able to pay all of the resident’s bills on time, and they should have adequate financial knowledge to deal with things as they come up. In general, someone that has worked in the finance or accounting fields would be a perfect responsible party for their parent’s financial needs.
How to Choose a Medical Power of Attorney
Sometimes an assisted living facility wants more than one responsible party depending on what the specific responsibilities are. In addition to financial issues, medical issues may arise at the facility as well that would require a person other than the resident to make important decisions. Because these facilities cannot usually administer their own medical treatments without permission, they need someone to be authorized to give the green light if something should come up while the resident is unconscious or without the mental capability to make the decision on their own.
The perfect responsible person for medical decisions at an assisted living facility would be someone who cares deeply about the resident, as well as someone who knows their medical history and their outlook on life. Here, the best person would be a younger sibling or son or daughter of the resident.
Some Other Considerations
When making this decision it is very important to keep the resident involved. They should be able to choose who has the power of attorney over them, and they have the right to know who the responsible parties are for both their financial and medical needs. It is important that they are also reminded who these people are if any decisions end up being made for them.
Timeliness in choosing these responsible parties is paramount as well. In a perfect world, these individuals would be chosen years before a parent is moved into an assisted living facility. You never know when something will happen that will cause your parent to be put into an assisted living facility. This process should be done at the same time that a living will is created.
As a side note, it is also important to remember that having a responsible party or a power of attorney is not the same as having a living will. This agent is not supposed to make decisions of where property should go when the parent is deceased or close to death, unless it is related to financial remediation of debts that the person has. The best case scenario is to have both a living will and a power of attorney.
Taking care of our loved ones is extremely important, and with so many other things to think about when they are moved into assisted living facilities, we should not keep adding on. SeniorPath can help guide you through this confusing process, free of charge.
About Senior Path:
We are a professional, senior housing advisory service which provides personal attention to Seniors and their families. We employ a staff of talented, caring Advisors who have vast experience helping Seniors and their families through this transition. Our Advisors have extensive backgrounds in the Senior Care industry enabling them to understand what Seniors want and need.