Lasting powers of attorney for health and care decisions

A friend once told me how upset he felt when he visited his mother in her new care home and found her in front of a large TV watching daytime television. He told me that when his mother was living in her own home she loved being outside and spent hours in her garden. She would never have chosen to watch Bargain Hunt in the afternoon. That experience made him realise that his mother’s dementia was in danger of robbing her of her identity.

Navigating and enjoying our day-to-day life necessarily involves making a series of decisions, from the big decisions such as where we live and with whom, to the more mundane choices such as when we decide to get up in the morning, choosing what we wear and what we eat for lunch. If we couldn’t make those decisions for ourselves, they would have to be made for us and in that situation, many of us would want to choose who had that responsibility. We frequently help people set up lasting powers of attorney for health and care decisions. For example your attorney could make the following decisions:

  • Where you should live and who you should live with.
  • Your day-to-day care, including diet and dress.
  • Who you may have contact with.
  • Consenting to or refusing medical examination and treatment on your behalf. And if you choose to do so, consenting or refusing medical treatment which is necessary to keep you alive.
  • Making arrangements for you to be given medical, dental or optical treatment.
  • Arranging assessments for and provision of community care services.
  • Whether you should take part in social activities, leisure activities, education or training.
  • Looking after your personal correspondence and papers.

Sometimes just having the difficult conversations to express your wishes and feelings is hard - many close relatives, especially children, find it hard to talk about a time when their parents may not be as well as they are now, and many people simply say they trust their attorneys to get it right because they know them so well. That is probably true for the majority of cases, but it also helps to talk and better still, if you can, write it down and record your wishes.

The law and practice referred to in this article has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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