A Care Plan with No Family?

Care Plan with No Family

One assumption that most people have is that no matter who you are, there is a trusted, younger friend or family member who is able to make important end-of-life decisions for an aging loved one.

While this is true for the majority of people, in 2003, a study by the American Bar Association found that nearly 4 percent of aging adults are unable to make decisions for them themselves, have not made an advance directive, and have no friends or family to assist as a surrogate decision maker.

And with a rapidly-increasing elderly population in the U.S., it’s safe to assume that number will only grow over the next few decades, especially as the boomers age, who are likely to live longer and have less children than those in generations past.

So what should a person with no relatives or close friends do when faced with end-of-life care, and how should they make a care plan? New York Times senior care blogger Paula Span tackled this topic in a recent post. Below are several main points of her advice.

  • If possible, put together a care committee, where the senior recruits a few friends and professionals and makes his or her personal values and preferences clear. From there, the committee can be authorized to handle a variety of decisions.
  • Health care professionals are also available to help. Anyone can be appointed as a health care proxy. Still, restrictions apply in 38 states when it comes to having your personal care team of doctors and nurses be your proxy as well. Ask hospital staff what your options are.
  • Another option is asking an independent professional, such as an elder lawyer. With that said, it’s important to note that independent professionals may be hesitant to drop everything if/when a crisis arises.
  • Better yet, seek the help of a geriatric care manager or other social worker. Span notes that “they’re comfortable in hospitals and nursing homes and charge lower hourly rates than lawyers.”

At Encompass, we prefer to be the “feet on the ground, so to speak. While in rare cases we can become the POA (power of attorney) for a client, we generally opt to coach the person to obtain a POA, and coach the POA to navigate the system. This helps us maintain a professional relationship with all of our clients, whose best interests we always pursue.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

Photo credit: Dietmar Temps via Creative Commons

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