Free-Fall or Got it All? Your Choice!
“There are a variety of reasons people don’t plan ahead for their estate or personal care needs: some people get busy, assuming they have lots of time left and they’ll get around to it later; others are superstitious, thinking if they start drafting documents to provide for themselves in the event of the unthinkable, then the unthinkable event might actually occur; then there are those who simply don’t know what to do, and so, feeling completely overwhelmed, they do nothing.”
Excerpt from Everything I Wish I Had Known: Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s or Other Dementia Chapter 1, “Let’s Talk Law”
Preparing ahead of time is something we all know we should do. When we’re in school, teachers encourage us to prepare for upcoming tests through diligent study. Actors will rehearse a play many, many times before opening night, and athletes will train like crazy for a single competition.
So why will folks do such meticulous preparation for these kinds of things, but play fast and loose with medical and financial preparations that can protect them as they age?
I’ve talked with a great many people who wake up one day and suddenly realize they’re in the caregiving “hot seat,” at which point they start asking me—sometimes with an almost frantic urgency—question after question about what they need in order to take care of their loved one. These queries range from legal matters to medical tests to financial protections, but all with the same undertone: confusion and fear.
Part of the problem is people don’t realize how serious their need for pre-planning is until they’re suddenly faced with an emergency. In my case, I literally became my grandparents’ caregiver overnight, and if they had not had the proper documentation ready to go, they would have paid a terribly high price for their lack of preparation—and as their caregiver, I would have too.
My grandparents needed help immediately, but that help wouldn’t have been available if their durable power of attorney (POA) documents hadn’t been previously set up and waiting in the wings for just such an emergency.
I would have had trouble too, because without the authority granted by the durable POA, no one would have listened to a word I said about my grandparents’ care. If there had been no prepared documents, the best I could have hoped for was that a judge would have named me as their guardian and conservator—and just getting on the judge’s docket could have taken months (time my grandparents didn’t have to wait). On top of everything else, who only knows how many thousands of dollars I would’ve spent so I could (hopefully) be appointed by—and always accountable to—the court, all in the name of trying to care for my grandparents.
The good news is you can start right now to develop a plan that will put protections in place, not only for your elderly loved ones, but for yourself as well. The trick is to know what you need and how to go about getting it in place.
Not to worry, I’ve got something just for you! It’s my new book which was written to be a “crash course” for the caregiver. I’ve taken the time to do the research in six major areas of interest to any caregiver—so you wouldn’t have to! It addresses legal, medical, financial, family relationships, safety and self-care issues. Click the link below and order your digital copy. Don’t wait until you’re in free-fall without a safety net; get informed so you can be prepared!