Too often families wait until there is a crisis. I see many families making costly mistakes because they don’t know the criteria for making the best choice.
How did or do your parent’s age and what about that process do you want or not want to experience? Aging is very personal, you can do it your own way or copy a neighbor or a parent. The problem is their way may not be your way; you have so many choices, why not chose to personalize your aging. Think deeper and know your preferences, create criteria about what you want to do and when you want to do it.
Most elders will say they ‘do not want to be a burden to their children’ but many don’t really know what to do about it. They may visit an attorney, follow instructions to create a trust or will, maybe even Advance Directives and then take it home and file it.
Parents often tell adult children that they have been made Power of Attorney or Power of Health, but they don’t know at what point these documents come into affect. These are living, breathing and dynamic documents that need to be discussed, and any name mentioned in it needs to have their own copy.
Just being named doesn’t give them the power; it has to be triggered by certain actions. I have seen families where an elder has gone into decline and befriended a new person who has taken the elder to an attorney and had the documents changed to their name. As the family member didn’t realize that the documents had to be activated by a doctor, they had to go to court to get the decision revoked. If they had know what these documents mean and how they work, a lot of grief could have been spared.
So if your family is at the stage of putting your affairs in order, I say Bravo! And do take a look at my free download ‘Helping Elders, Strengthening Families’ here on my website, or read this helpful article I found in the New York Times. I encourage you to include family gatherings to take the time to discuss what your documents mean, to each member of the family. This can be a time of role changing, and it could take some work and time for all family members to be comfortable with the changes.