When an aging loved one may have dementia or mental illness, but is resisting family care, it can be difficult on family members. In one case, an 82-year-old mother has been accusing her children of spying on her, listening to her phone conversations and entering her home when she wasn't there. The aging mother told her doctor that she wouldn't talk to any of them. Unable to care for their mother, the children didn't know where to turn.
The children in this instance could have tried to contact their mother's doctor to discuss her condition. In some cases, a doctor is able to talk to a family member about a person's condition even without a legal release, especially if the person is suspected of having dementia. However, many doctors will not be so willing to release doctor-client information, requiring the person to have legal documents created during estate planning that would permit access.
The children also could have planned ahead of time and obtained important legal documents. The first is a trust, which allows a family member or friend to manage a person's assets. The second is called a durable power of attorney for finances. It gives someone the power to make financial decisions for another person. Both the trust and durable power of attorney options are available to residents in the state of Virginia.
Making decisions about someone's medical care requires a separate durable power of attorney for health. The last document needed is an advance healthcare directive which allows someone to specify their wishes so they can maintain control over their future treatment options. An advance healthcare directive may also designate a person to communicate those wishes for them if they are unable to do so.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Health 411: Aging mom may have dementia, and family doesn't know what to do," Lisa Zamosky, March 13, 2012