My fellow blogger recently wrote about family meetings and estate planning. There has been much written on the importance of power of attorney documents, who gets named, their responsibility and conflicts that have arisen as a result thereof.
While the focus of most disputes has to do with money and the Power of Attorney for Property, my interest lies with the disputes that occur on the care side and with the Attorney(s) for Personal Care.
Often times the lack of communication among the family is the trigger and decisions are being made in the absence of knowing all of the important information. I often find that the adult children’s hurt feelings of bygone years and perception seems to further cloud the situation at hand- ie the provision of care to a parent. At the end of the day or perhaps it should really be at the beginning of the day, is the need to understand what the older individual’s actual care needs are. Having these needs properly assessed and documented, I believe can go a long way in reducing or maybe even eliminating some of the disagreements. Old hurts may not be resolved but the hope is that they can be put aside at least so they don’t interfere and impact the well being of the parent. Having siblings on the same page for a plan of care for their parent is important.
Fellow blogger, Dr. Richard Shulman in his blog “The Psychology of Decision making by Attorneys for Personal Care – What You Won’t Learn in the Substitute Decisions Act (SDA)” shared his perspective on the psychology at play. He highlights the possibility of a previous estrangement or abandonment as well as guilt and hidden motivations (Mom loved you better or leave the money for my inheritance) that impact relationships and lead to these challenging disputes.
Understanding care needs from a medical and functional perspective is helpful at the beginning of the caregiving journey. Getting family around the table ( or on Zoom) and communicating these care needs and having an open discussion about ways to share the care or how the care will be provided and by whom is worthy of further discussion, and may even be able to prevent an expensive trip to court.