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What happens to an individual with dementia when they need assistance but don’t have a spouse or family to help?
Many adults do not have a spouse or any family who are involved in their lives. The need for assistance is not a complicated issue for them, unless they have never assigned a Power of Attorney (POA).
By assigning a POA, you grant a person (or persons) the power to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so. They can obtain important information from your medical and insurance providers, sign documents if consent is needed for treatment, help you move, sell something, cancel an account, or hire a service.
In coordination with the rules of your particular financial institution, a POA can be assigned to manage your money and obligations.
If the individual with dementia does not have a POA but is clearly able to make their needs known and demonstrate understanding, they can obtain the forms, have them witnessed and notarized, or an attorney can assist in creating them.
You can choose a primary and an alternate decision maker or assign dual powers. You define the details and limits of the POA. Additionally, there is a difference between a Health Care POA and a Financial POA. Each needs to be specifically designated.
Ideally the POA should live in close proximity and be willing and able when it becomes necessary, to manage your affairs both routinely and in a crises. This can be complicated and time consuming. If no trusted friend meets these qualifications, professionals are available for hire.
If the person cannot afford a professional POA, or if their decision making is impaired, court appointed guardianship would be the next step. In this case the state would become involved and a petition would be brought to the court to assign a person’s rights to a legal Guardian. This is a long involved process.
Every adult can benefit by choosing a legal decision maker to step in if we are unable to take action or make choices on our own behalf. Many residents at Panorama choose a professional even when they have a spouse or family to assist because they value the neutrality and legal obligation a professional has in carrying out someone’s wishes.
If you have questions about this information or would like resources, please contact the Independent Living Social Service Advisors at x7557.
Independent Living Social Services