When you don’t live close enough to your elderly parents to drop by on a regular basis, you may be concerned that they may be facing problems that you are not aware of. If you’re lucky enough to have a sibling or other family member who lives closer to your parents, you have the ability to share information with them. A lot of us live at a distance and can only rely on what our parents share with us to set our fears to rest and continue to believe that everything is well.
Getting your Parents to Agree to a Power of Attorney
Your parents are protected by privacy laws. If one of them ends up in the hospital, you will quickly find out that the days of getting information from the nurse’s station are gone. Medical professionals will not risk being libel for breaching a patient’s right to privacy. The patient has to give permission for any information on their condition to be shared. This can be given when the patient is admitted or can be conveyed if they give you Power of Attorney.
The same rights to privacy keep you from checking to see that their finances are in order. Unless you are named on their bank accounts, you may have no way of knowing that they have enough funds to pay for their medical expenses or even their nutritional needs unless you have a Power of Attorney.
Broaching the subject of a Power of Attorney can be delicate because it could be seen as a way toward the loss of independence by your aging parent. Prepare for the time when the monitoring tool will be needed by laying the groundwork well in advance. It will be easier for your parents to understand the need for your ability to access personal information about them if they are convinced that you share their desire for continued independent living with them.
When you depend on your telephone conversations to monitor your parents well being, take extra care in keeping honesty in communications open. Your parents want the same things that you probably do. You don’t want your parent, or even your own friends, hitting you with a barrage of questions during each conversation. Some things are simply none of anyone’s business. Your parents feel the same way.
If you don’t want your elderly parents to start hiding things from you, refrain from being judgmental. If they tell you of a recent purchase, be positive of it instead of questioning the cost, their need for it, or letting them know it was cheaper elsewhere. Instead, ask if they got a deal on it and subtly ask where they got it, implying that you’d like to see if you could get a similar value.
If they missed a phone call from you, don’t demand a lot of answers. You probably imagine a worst case scenario, especially if the cell phone message or text isn’t answered in a timely manner. But remember, just like you, there are times when responding to a call just aren’t a top priority.
Never let your parents feel vulnerable that the natural aging process could force you into taking steps that would limit their independence. Of course they will understand that you are concerned about their well being, and once you prove that a Power of Attorney will not only set your mind at ease in case of a medical emergency or assist them in making sure that their bills are paid if they are unable to tend to banking issues they will be more willing to give you a Power of Attorney. Just take care not to abuse the privilege once you have it.