Live Event on Legal Matters for Boomers

Facebook Live Event on Legal Matters

In the regularly scheduled Live event on Facebook, Carole Larkin, a Geriatric Care Manager discusses getting legal matters in place as soon as possible. 

Carole set up a Trust with a bank but first she contacted an Elder Law Attorney who helped direct the process. There are many ways to set up legal docs and Carole shared a few with us. 

One way is to hire an Elder Law Attorney to initiate the process. But if you need a person to represent you in the event you cannot, hire a Care Manager, usually called a geriatric care manager. A directory to locate one is found at ALCA's website, AgingLifeCare.org. If you need more assistance, contact the Area Agency on Aging department in your area. 

If you're a solo ager, Carole highly advises us to set up a team of legal support. That's what I did. Fortunately, my brother and his wife are able to be my health care proxy. That's my first step. But the older I get, the more I realize the need to create a larger team of individuals to help me out if I am unable. 

Choosing a Health Care Proxy

There are a few rules to follow when choosing one.

Who can’t be your health care proxy:

State rules for who may be a health care proxy vary, but the most common groups disqualified are: 

  1. Anyone under age 18. 
  2. Your health care provider, including the owner or operator of a health or residential or community care facility serving you—unless this person is your spouse or close relative. 
  3. An employee of your health care provider—unless this person is your spouse or close relative.

The person you choose to make health care decisions for you is known by different names in different states. This person is sometimes called a health care agent, proxy, representative, attorney-in-fact, surrogate, or even patient advocate. 

After choosing a proxy

Each state has set their own standards and criteria for individuals acting as an agent or proxy.  Check your state's advance care directives

When considering a proxy, will the person be willing to speak on your behalf?  A guide to use when selecting one. 

Is the potential proxy able to act in favor of what you want and your wishes? Will their own feelings obstruct carrying out your wishes? 

Do they live nearby? Is s/he willing and able to travel to be with you? 

Medical Treatment Decisions 

Evaluating the pros and cons of medical treatments is complicated and my attorney gave me tips: 

The attorney asked, “How much hardship am I willing to accept and live through if the chances of regaining my current health was high? What if the chances were low? 

Evaluate the odds of survival. 

Assess your willingness to take risks: Imagine you are seriously ill. The doctors recommend treatment, but it has severe side effects, severe pain, nausea, vomiting, or weakness that could last for months and beyond. 

Are you willing to endure such effects? (Circle one answer for each) 

High (80%+) Yes | Don’t know | No 

Moderate (50%+) Yes | Don’t know | No 

Very low (less than 2%) Yes | Don’t know | No 

Very, very low (less than 1 in 1,000) Yes | Don’t know | No 

Matters of Faith 

Each of us has personal priorities and spiritual beliefs that effect the medical decisions. These come into play at the end of life with regard to the use of life-sustaining treatments. 

To make your values and beliefs clearer, consider the questions below. Use more paper if you need more space. 

What do you value most about your physical or mental well being?

Do you enjoy spending time with friends and loved ones?

Is spending time outdoors important?

What else is important to you?

Here’s your chance to document preferences. 

Do you want to be sedated if it were necessary to control pain? Does it matter if the drugs make you drowsy or puts you to sleep most of the time? 

Do you want a hospice team or palliative care available to you? 

Are there people to whom you want to write a letter or prepare a recorded message — to open later by them? 

How do you want to be remembered? 

How would you describe your faith? What do you want others to know about your beliefs? 

What gives your life purpose and meaning? 

What do you need for comfort at the end? What priorities do you want others to know? 

Your conversation on end of life topics is one of the most significant of your life. Think it through but most importantly, have the conversation with those who matter most. 

Stay tuned for my next Live event on April 9th, 2019, 3:00 PM CST. Laurie Miller will discuss the Conversation Project's resources and ideas about end of life. Like my page on Facebook and join us.

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