Legal preparation is another critical area for future planning with your loved ones to ensure their wishes are respected as they age. Advanced legal planning creates a seamless process if a family caregiver needs to step in and champion should their loved one become unable to make their own decisions. Finally, legal planning provides caregivers with the confidence they are respecting their loved one’s wishes.
A place to start with legal and end of life planning:
A will and trust (also called a Living Trust) - A will indicates how you would like your estate divided when you die. A trust is a legal entity preventing your estate from going through probate after you die. Trusts are more common with larger estates.
Durable Power of Attorney for Finance - Enables the person of your choice to access your financial resources to pay bills if you are unable to do so.
An Advance Health Care Directive, also called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or Living Will - This document enables the person you name to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions on your own.
POLST: Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (takes the place of a Do Not Resuscitate order or DNR) – indicates the life sustaining treatments you want and also the extent of intervention you want in case of incapacity. Completed and/or approved by and with your physician.
5 Wishes: a document that helps you discuss your plan for care at the end of life
Final Arrangements: Indicates your preference after your death, including burial or cremation, organ donation, and wishes for funeral or life celebration arrangements.
You can get free (limited) legal help through your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or hire an Elder Law Attorney to assist with preparation of legal documents. You may prepare some basic documents together with your loved one, but make sure you get them notarized when needed. If dealing with a complex or large estate, writing a will with over $100,000 in assets, or family members disagree with their loved one or there is feuding between family members, it is best to have the documents prepared by an attorney.
Sadly, many older adults will fall victim to those they trust. From crooked contractors and telemarketers to neighbors and even family members who take advantage of their older loved ones, older adults are at risk. As defined by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, elder abuse takes many forms:
Physical abuse is physical force that results in injury, pain, or impairment. It includes assault, battery, and inappropriate restraint.
Sexual abuse non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an older adult.
Domestic violence an escalating pattern of violence by an intimate partner where the violence is used to exercise power and control.
Psychological abuse is the willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, or other verbal or nonverbal conduct.
Financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of an older person's funds, property, or resources. • Neglect is the failure of a caregiver to fulfill his or her care giving responsibilities.
Self-neglect is failure to provide for one's own essential needs.
If you have concerns about a loved one who may be at risk of abuse or victimization, please report your concerns. A report to Adult Protective services will trigger an investigation into the safety and wellness of your loved one. Reports can be anonymous and it is always better to report your concerns than not to do so.