Consider this scenario: Your father is a Type 1 diabetic. His insulin pump stops working and he hasn’t received insulin for over 24 hours.

He falls into a coma.

Do you have the authority to call his health care plan and get an appointment and advice from a nurse? Do you have the right to discuss your father’s health with his primary care physician?

Not without his consent.

If you are an only child like me, some agencies will talk to you – but not without a lot of verification which can take precious time when you’re in a panic state.

When you start to see signs in a loved one that they are not making the best decisions – for their health or their financial well-being – this is the time to discuss with them giving you a Power of Attorney.

What is Power of Attorney?

We have links to very informative websites on this subject below, but from a daughter’s perspective, let me keep it simple. This is a vital and sensitive document. Your loved one should participate in this process as much as possible – it is important that they feel they still have some control over their lives. In a financial or health emergency, having a Power of Attorney in place saves so much time when you need it most.

The three most important factors for our family when considering a Power of Attorney:

• A power of attorney document has different levels – these levels describe to the courts the areas where your aging or disabled parent is giving you permission to act on their behalf

• This document can allow you to speak with health care professionals, Social Security, Medicare, and talk to banks and credit card companies including opening and closing accounts that are in their name. (If you have a parent who doesn’t manage money well this is a big one!) (link to our money management-elder abuse blog)

• With this document, you can also apply for benefits and programs as the need becomes available (HUD housing/food stamps/long term care)

Additional resources:

It does not have to cost an arm and a leg to obtain Power of Attorney

Misconceptions about Power of Attorney

More info: What is a Power of Attorney

Jane S. Daly is the author of two nonfiction books and seven novels.

Jane is addicted to coffee, purple pens, and her husband, not necessarily in that order. A self-proclaimed introvert, she enjoys the solitude of riding shotgun in Rigsby, her 37-foot motor home. But when they pull into a new campground, her favorite thing is to make new friends and find hangouts featuring local musicians. Her fantasy involves writing lyrics for country music songs and hearing them played on the radio. In the meantime, she’ll stick to writing novels. And seeing as much of the country as possible.