Adult children with aging parents face emotional and logistical challenges as the roles of caregiver are reversed. When once you were cared for by your parent, as they age you may be the one taking the lead in the caring role.

We are living longer and as we age, changes may become necessary – a need for help at home, assisted living, or long term care, for example. Now may even be the time when you, and your parents, should start thinking about a living will or some other type of advance directive.


How It Works

An advance directive is a legal document outlying a person’s wishes for medical care i should they find themselves in a position where they are unable to communicate their wishes about treatment. A living will is a specific form of advance directive, and other variations exist. One must be deemed competent of making their own decisions to execute a living will. This is something you may want to consider for yourself or your parent while you are in possession of clear, decision making faculties. A CSA,  a certified senior advisor, may be able to help you arrive at the best option for your family, but the actual procedure should be conducted with an elder law attorney.


The Living Will 

The advance directive known as a living will is a declaration, in writing, about a person’s wishes when it comes to medical treatment. Often this means specifying the limits to which a terminal medical condition be allowed to persist, or what to do in the event of a catastrophic health failure. In other words, it is an advance directive that includes a DNR if requested.  DNR means “do not resuscitate.” This means that in event that an illness results in heart or lung failure where some medical means can restore function, there is a clear order, signed and made in advance by the person stating that such revival measures are not welcome, and that a preference to let nature take its course is preferred.


Durable Power of Attorney For Health Care 

Another variation on the advance directive is the durable power of attorney for health care. Where the living will has an advance directive that includes a DNR if requested, power of attorney actually gives a trusted, designated person the ability to make this decision. Medical Power of attorney means that if a person is unable to make a decision to move forward with medical treatment, the ability to make that decision is transferred to someone designated who is legally empowered to do so on their behalf. A financial power of attorney has authority to make financial decisions on another’s behalf. power of attorney agreements should not be entered into lightly by either party, as there is an absolute level of trust necessary and responsibility involved between all parties. A Power of Attorney can be a family member or trusted advisor.


This is why discussing such matters with a Professional advisor or elder law attorney is essential.


These are big decisions. Treat them as such.