Taking care of elderly parents can be extremely rewarding, and it’s important you know what to do when you get there. Setting up a power of attorney could be an important starting point.
Health and safety are the primary concerns for any child taking care of elderly parents, possibly pushing more practical matters such as financial affairs further down the priority list. Yet all too often those finances will need to be taken care of to enable the best possible care.
Making sure your parents’ finances are in order is critical – especially in the instance where they may become unable to make important and informed decisions due to changes in physical or mental health, caused by conditions such as a severe stroke or dementia. It could also be that your parents may become unable to take care of important matters due to old age, and will need help with this.
When it comes to the wellbeing of loved ones, thinking ahead could help to provide clarity on what needs to be done before a difficult situation arises.
In the future, you might need to be involved in helping your parents with day-to-day decisions such as meal preparation and attending medical appointments, or more money-related help such as paying bills and banking. If your parents are unable to carry out these tasks by themselves, you may need to do these for them. This is where it may be useful to have a discussion with them about putting a power of attorney in place.
Discussing future responsibilities can be difficult, and could create a feeling of loss of independence for your parents. But an open and thoughtful conversation now will allow you and your parents to get the right help in place, and avoid facing a stressful situation in later years.
What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney (PoA) grants you legal permission to make decisions for your parents. Your parents can appoint one or more people they trust to help them either with the decision-making process or to make decisions for them.
There are two main types: an ordinary PoA, which is useful for people who need help temporarily while they recover from an illness or accident, or a lasting PoA, which can be set up well before your parents would need it. There are two types of lasting PoA:
- health and welfare
- property and financial affairs
Your parents can apply for one or both, depending on what is most relevant to their situation. This type of PoA is especially useful where a potential long-term mental and physical illness could affect an elderly person.
If my parents want to put a power of attorney in place, how can I help them?
Speaking to a family solicitor or legal professional is usually the first step if your parents are considering putting a power of attorney in place. They can set up a lasting power of attorney online without legal help, but many people prefer discussing this with a solicitor first. You can find out more about a power of attorney, and how to set one up, here.