Home Health Care News

The 40-70 Rule: Advanced Directives

Life Legacies

Your 80-year-old widowed father is starting to have health problems. You know your parents have a will but, beyond that, you have no idea what else needs to be in place. What more does your dad need and how do you begin the conversation with your parents about these issues?

Vital Designations

Aside from a will (and finding it), there is much information needed to prepare for leaving a lasting legacy. First, has your father considered advance care planning and has he named a Personal Representative and powers of attorney? A web search of “advance directions” will provide state-by-state details about legal documents required to ensure trusted people will be able to make decisions for your father if he is not able to do so for himself.

A durable power of attorney for health care, also called a health-care proxy, can protect your parents’ desire to carry out their end-of-life wishes. It will be important for your family to educate yourselves about various medical treatment options then put those wishes in writing. A living will is a document that specifies your wishes about important health-care decisions

Getting Started

Second, your dad needs a personal, pre-planning checklist. This is a list that will help his family know the friends and professionals he would like notified if something happens to him, what accounts to close, what announcements to post, which wishes to carry out and the non-titled property to be disbursed. Brainstorm a list of information that would possibly be needed. Include names along with contact and account numbers for: retirement pay, insurance policies, investments, back accounts and safe-deposit boxes, properties, preferred law and accountant firms, pre-paid arrangements for death – anything that comes to mind.

Important Details

Don’t forget to make note of phone service, newspaper delivery, real estate agent, veterinarian, association memberships, family, friends and neighbors who should be called. Detail wishes for final arrangements. Has your parent written an obituary? In what newspaper or newsletter would he like an obituary to appear? Is there a place where donations should be made in your parent’s name? If there will be a memorial service, who will deliver the eulogy and how should the funeral be conducted?

Perhaps a credit card could be made available for your father’s Personal Representative to use when carrying out official duties after his death. (Suggestions: Carefully stipulate how the card is to be used and that it is to be destroyed once the duties are carried out.) Property disbursement – specific items that go to specific people – might also be discussed and written down. Let your checklist evolve as you learn and talk with others. If all this information is signed, dated and kept together (with the will) in a safe location know by his adult children, then Dad will be truly good to go.

What to Say

So how do you begin the discussion with your dad about such a sensitive subject? How about designing a pre-planning checklist for yourself? (After all, you’ll need one someday, too.) You might begin by engaging your dad in conversation: “Dad, I’m preparing a checklist in the event something happens to me…and for the inevitable. Would you look this over and see if this makes sense to you?” If possible, involve all siblings in the process. If you make copies of this checklist for Dad and your siblings, he would be more likely to pull one together for himself. This could even turn into a family project, whereby the adult children help suggest and gather the information, so that everyone stays in the loop. And, if everyone is working on their own checklist, Dad won’t feel so “singled out.”

Home Instead Senior Care is an in-home health care provider located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina serving individuals and families in the Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand area for over 11 years! We offer assistance to those in need for companionship, home help, personal care, short-term recovery, Alzheimer’s care, Respite care and many other services to make your life easier.

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