There are a myriad of issues to consider when deciding to become a part- or full-time caregiver for a loved one. Senior care isn't an easy occupation and requires endless patience and many sacrifices. However, being able to give back and help improve the situation of a husband, wife, or parent is worth the time and energy.
It's common to get caught up in the emotional side of this decision. Many new caregivers ask themselves:
- Will I be able to give the care my loved one needs?
- Can I afford to cut back my hours or quit my job?
- What happens if their condition worsens? Will I be able to get the professional and personal support I'll need?
These questions are all necessary to ask ahead of time and have plans in place to ensure you and your loved one are taken care of. However, there are many financial and legal considerations that need to be prepared as early as possible. Below are five financial/legal documents that need to be in place for the safety and protection of your loved on.
5 Documents You & Your Loved One Need to Prepare
- Power of Attorney — This is a legal document that specifies who will be your substitute decision maker for financial and legal matters when you can no longer make your own decisions. Verbal instructions can be valid, but it is recommended that a legal document be executed so there are no questions in an emergency.
- Power of Attorney for Healthcare — This document names the person who will make decisions for you about healthcare, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene, safety, and consent or refusal of consent to treatment when the time comes. This could be the same person who has your legal power of attorney or it might be a different person.
- Advanced Directive or Living Will — This document describes your wishes for health care and end-of-life care. Your family will know what kind of care you want when they have to make the difficult decisions.
- Updated Will — If you are going to make changes to your will, now is the time. Even if you think there are no changes to be made, it is important to review the will, with a lawyer, if possible.
- Bank Account — The substitute decision maker should be added as a signer to your bank account so they can pay the bills, buy groceries, etc., when you can no longer do so.
This list is an excerpt from our 37-page e-book "Living Well with Alzheimer's," which covers everything from the latest research on Alzheimer's Disease to learning how to cope with changes and what to expect.
As you move forward with senior caregiving, questions and concerns about finances, caregiving, and your loved one's health will undoubtedly pop up. Besides having the necessary legal documents in place, you can help yourself by developing a strong support group for you and your loved from the very beginning on that includes their primary care physician, visiting nurses and/or in-home caregivers, a good contact at your local CCAC, and family and friends. With this support group, you can ensure that you will never be alone and will always have the help you and your loved one need.
Check out the Caregiver Checklist below to ensure you're not missing any pieces of our loved one's care.