It’s hard to think about your elderly loved one becoming mentally unsound or physically incapacitated. But if you see them moving in that direction, it’s vital that you plan well for the road ahead — no matter how twisty and bumpy it looks. Otherwise, you may find yourself ill-prepared in the midst of a difficult, complicated situation, making the whole thing that much harder.
What Does “Incapacitated” Mean?
Typically, states define an “incapacitated person” as someone who cannot provide for their own basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter), look after their own health, or manage their own finances.
As this is a rather vague definition, and as the onset of dementia can be gradual and hard to recognize, it may be helpful to consider whether the elderly person can effectively perform the following (incomplete) list of tasks:
- Maintain a clean home
- Safely drive a car
- Practice good personal hygiene
- Collect and respond to mail, phone calls, etc.
- Manage and take medications
- Recognize scams
- Understand and consent to medical/dental treatment
Often, courts will require expert testimony from a physician regarding the elderly person’s mental and physical condition before judging their level of capacity.
How Can You Plan for Incapacitation?
One of the most important things you can do is establish a medical power of attorney and healthcare directives. Elder care law can be complicated, so be sure that your power of attorney is specifically designed for elderly needs.
Additionally, be sure your power of attorney allows for long-term strategies like Medicaid. Without ensuring these provisions, the only option for your elderly loved one is to go through the long, costly guardianship process.
You should also establish an updated will and plan your estate appropriately. This will look different for everyone, but a good estate planning and elder law attorney will be able to help you get everything in order.
Learn More About Elder Care Law with Bradford & Holliman
Elder law in Alabama has many facets. At Bradford & Holliman, we can explain all the features of elder care that apply to a particular situation and family. Contact us for a free consultation!