"Will a power of attorney give me the authority I need to cause my unwilling 92-year-old parent to stay in an assisted living facility?"

Answer:  This is such a heartbreaking situation because we all want our own independence, and we understand our senior family members’ desire for the same thing.  Unfortunately, however, a person can lose the ability to make the kinds decisions for himself or herself that will promote the person’s health and safety.  When the person is still physically able but is the only one on the planet who is not aware of his or her impaired decision-making ability, concerned family members are often at a loss to find solutions.

Depending on the law of your particular jurisdiction, a power of attorney all by itself may not provide the authority you need to force a parent to live in a facility of your choosing.  You probably need to seek court appointment as your parent’s guardian.  The court’s determination that your parent needs a guardian will depend on your ability to provide medical and other evidence of your parent’s diminished capacity.  This all by itself can be extremely painful, because the court proceeding in many jurisdictions is public, and it may be difficult to maintain a level of privacy that will preserve your parent’s dignity while obtaining the result that is in his or her best interest.

Your best course of action would be to seek the advice of legal, medical, and psychological counselors who can help you navigate your way through these murky and treacherous waters.  The problem goes beyond any one of these disciplines, and you need a coordinated effort among a team of caring professionals to convince your parent (to the extent this is possible) that you are acting in his or her best interest, and to put you in a position to have legal authority to make whatever decisions are necessary.  People who have worked with the elderly in these kinds of situations can give you tips and tricks (I hate to use that terminology, but sometimes that’s what it comes down to) to help you deal with your parent’s objections.  As long as you are clear about your motivation to promote your parent’s best interest, you can maintain the strength to do what you need to do.  You can find helpful resources and lists of professionals in your area at http://www.eldercarematters.com/statechapters.htm

Scott A. Makuakane, Esq., CFP
Est8Planning Counsel LLLC
Honolulu, Hawaii  96813
808-587-8227
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Hawaii chapter

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