Have your aging parents created a health power of attorney?

No one wants to think about their parents getting older, losing mental clarity and slowly dying. However, aging and the physical and mental deterioration that come with it are a part of life. If you're worried about the health and mental capacity of your aging parents, it may be time to talk with them about creating a specific power of attorney to deal with health issues in the future.

You love your parents and want what is best for them. You also want to follow their instructions when it comes to health decisions and end of life care. Talking with your parents about creating a special power of attorney for when they become medically incapacitated is a smart decision. The document will protect you, your parents, their wishes and their estate in the event that they become unable to make their own medical decisions in the future.

Specific power of attorney documents protect everyone

There are generic forms online that you could use to create a power of attorney. However, these are often very broad and may not stand up if challenged. Your best option is to have a new power of attorney with language specific to your situation created.

These documents can be incredibly specific about the nature of the powers transferred to the agent. Only when specific conditions occur can the agent invoke his or her power to make critical medical decisions.

Some people are nervous about executing a power of attorney, believing it will give someone else control over everything in their lives. In reality, a well-written power of attorney only grants specific authority to someone, and only in cases where special things, such as experiencing mental degradation or entering a coma, happen. Additionally, power of attorney ends at death, so a different family member can assume the role of executor if your parents wish.

Power of attorney can protect everyone involved

A medical power of attorney document can address a range of issues, from choosing to resuscitate versus do not resuscitate orders and organ donation, to issues like life support and the administration of pain medication.

This allows your parents to make their medical wishes quite clear. If they change in the future, possibly due to a diagnosis with a terminal condition like cancer or a degenerative condition like Alzheimer's, you can always update the power of attorney.

Without a power of attorney, someone less trusted could end up with the power to make a decision about your parents' care at a later time. Taking the time and energy to make decisions now can help ensure that your parents' wishes get followed and that everyone in your family is protected in the event of a medical emergency in the future.

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