Idaho’s "Unbefriended" Senior Struggle With Health Care Decisions

MB900442315[1]When it comes time to makelife-and-death health decisions on your behalf, what do you do if you have no“family” to name as your healthcare proxy or as the agent on your power ofattorney?

The New Old Age blog of The NewYork Times recently took up the question of “When There’s No Family.”

This is an especially difficultproblem for many seniors.  Theyoftentimes need someone to wield a power of attorney and even a medicaldirective to go to bat in their interests with medical staff, not to mentionsettling aspects of the estate. While there are close friends for many seniorseven in lieu of family, it is still not uncommon to be without even these.

According to the American BarAssociation’s Commission on Law and Aging, “perhaps 4 percent of older adultsare ‘the unbefriended elderly,’ a chilling phrase referring to those who cannotmake decisions for themselves, have no advance directive or surrogate decisionmaker, and have no family or friends able to assist.”

Unfortunately, there are feweasy solutions. Even engaging a professional to serve in such capacities can bea difficult road, too. The professional will be bound to certain standards anddifficult legal requirements. In addition, not everyone can serve in this capacity,especially the medical staff an elderly person may have come to befriend andrely upon.

Fortunately, solutions areemerging -- like the notion of a “care community” of elderly individualslooking after one another, financially, medically and often legally.

Whether such a solution is opento you, it is still absolutely vital to have robust advanced directivesconcerning end-of-life decisions. Make sure you have appointed someone you knowand trust to speak for you and do for you when you cannot. The importance ofhaving your end-of-life wishes committed to writing cannot be overemphasized.

For more information on this and otherestate planning subjects, contact IdahoEstate Planning and schedule aconsultation. Remember,good planning is no accident.

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