This past week I met with two new clients who were both single women in their mid- 70’s. They both lived alone in their own condos and had retired from well-paying jobs. There were reaching out to EC to help guide them in thinking about and planning for a time when they would be less capable (both mentally and physically) of managing their own day to day needs. Thankfully, they are both planners and were being proactive.
Neither of these women had children nor close blood relatives on whom they could rely. Our conversation soon focused on the important paperwork particularly the need for powers of attorney for both property and personal care. My particular interest of course is in relation to the attorney for personal care and the importance of identifying a key individual (or individuals) who could make decision on their behalf when they were no longer capable of doing so for themselves.
This was problematic for both and neither felt that there was anyone who stood out, who could or would assume this role. There were concerned that their friends were the same age and many were struggling with their own health challenges and they did not want to add to their load.
Over the last many years, we have worked with many older single women and like these two ladies, the issue of who to name as their attorney for personal care had been of concern. Fortunately a trust company can be named for property and this can alleviate a lot of worry and apprehension. However, for personal care, this is not an option. In several cases the older individual contracted with a neighbor to fill the role as attorney for personal care with the understanding that the neighbor would be named in their will as a major beneficiary. This had not worked out well for them. Other times, there was no one named and the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee had to step in. This did not always work out well either.
Other times I have seen several friends appointed who could share the responsibility and I think that ‘sharing the caring’ among friends may be the route more frequently chosen. EC is often asked to work with the attorney (attorneys) and be their eyes and legs. Knowledgeable and professional care managers are doing the groundwork, navigating the health care systems, identifying resources and helping the attorneys to make an informed choice once they know the options available. I believe this is of great assistance and through continued education we are seeing more and more proactive individuals getting their important paperwork in place and feeling confident about their futures.