Date: March 20, 2020

Author: Kathleen Boziwick


In a high-stress situation, you don’t need extra things to do. When it comes to your parents’ care, having paperwork in place as early as possible will make a big difference. That’s why it’s important to sit down as a family, discuss your parents’ preferences when it comes to senior care matters, and figure out what legal paperwork is needed to ensure their wishes are met.

Your parents may be in great health. You still want to have a plan in case something changes months or even years from now. It saves a lot of panic and rushed organization if there’s a sudden change in their health.

Talk to an Elder Care Lawyer

You do pay to have certain forms drawn up, but initial conversations with an elder care lawyer are often free. The forms you want to ask about include medical and financial powers of attorney and HIPAA permissions.

A medical power of attorney allows you to speak for them if they cannot speak for themselves. The forms usually include a list of things your parents would and would not want to be done for them. For example, they may say they do not want to be resuscitated, put on a ventilator, or given a feeding tube. You use their instructions to make medical decisions on their behalf.

HIPAA is a rule that prevents doctors from sharing your medical information without your permission. Medical information must be kept private. If your dad had a test result he didn’t understand, you could not talk to his doctor for clarification without HIPAA permissions. The doctor would need to have paperwork stating it was okay to share medical information with you.

You can get the HIPAA permissions from your parents’ doctors. It’s easier to have the lawyer draw them up as part of a medical power of attorney. Plus, the attorney may be able to file the HIPAA in state or federal databases to save you time and frustration.

Ideally, you don’t ever want to need to have to make decisions regarding your parents’ care. If you do, the right paperwork makes it much easier.

Talk About Senior Care Plans, Too

In addition to those legal forms, you need to talk to your parents about home care. If your parents’ situation changed and they needed help with meals, housekeeping, or transportation, what happens? Would they expect you and your siblings to help out? Do you have the time or are you tied to a job and family duties of your own?

Make sure that the realities of care are presented. You may have a few hours here and there that you can spare. If daily caregivers were needed, you may need to bring in senior care services to fill gaps when you’re at work or taking care of your children. You can come up with a plan that meets yours and your parents’ needs by making a call.

Date: March 20, 2020