Who is the best person to act as power of attorney for an assisted living resident?

  1. Molly Dworken 10/16/2012 05:33PM

    Acting as a power of attorney for an assisting living resident is as serious as the name implies, and the responsibility shouldn't be taken lightly. There are healthcare/medical and financial powers of attorney, both of which have you acting on behalf of the assisted living resident should they become unable to make a decision on their own that maintains their best interests financially, socially, or medically.

    A healthcare or medical power of attorney can make decisions about medical care on a resident's behalf, acting as their health care agent. Often, when designating someone to take on this role, it's done in conjunction with creating a living will. That way, the resident's wishes are clearly listed out, and the power of attorney is basically there to ensure those wishes are carried out.

    A financial power of attorney is the person who handles the money decisions of the resident up to and including paying bills, making investments, and paying for care.

    A legal agreement will specify under what circumstances each power will shift to the power of attorney, and it will clearly list what these duties will entail. When choosing someone to assume one or both of these very important responsibilities, it has to be someone that the resident feels is organized, knowledgeable, responsible, and can commit the time necessary to make such decisions should the need arise. There can certainly be two different people to take on these different responsibilities, but they may need to work together, so keep that in mind when choosing the right people.

    It's worth noting that if the senior does not have any next of kin, or if the family cannot come to an agreement, a probate court may step in to appoint a Guardian or conservator. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to decisions that do not benefit the senior. Even worse, there have been cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the senior's finances.

    Above all else, the powers of attorney – both medical and financial – should be someone who the resident trusts completely, and who would always put the resident's best interests first.