Aging & A Case for Personal Advocacy – 3

As we continue to learn from our own experiences, as advocates for others in all manner of care giving, in particular here, elder care, we must be a leader of own personal advocacy team by taking charge with some specific actions with our future in mind. It’s a matter of a taking proactive actions now, through conversations with others, family and or trusted friends, rather than remain blinkered in the vision of our elder selves.

Personal advocacy is a life lesson that we do not have to learn and live on our own. The team approach Mark Venning advised in the June 17th, first post in this series, and the self-education in personal financial advocacy as Marie Howes spoke of in part two July 12, can be strengthened by other actions which will help to reassure you. At the same time, this will provide vital information to your chosen advocate(s) who will be the spokesperson for you in the event that you cannot.

Before choosing your personal advocate first in line after you, there are some opening questions to ask:

  • Will the person have time to manage in a crisis?
  • Will the person be managing your affairs with their physical presence or from a distance? Managing from a distance can be done, but needs other steps to be put in place.  For example if giving instructions by phone or Skype there will have to a witness in place for those receiving the instruction and furthermore;
  • Will the person be comfortable advocating your decisions if that choice is contrary to their personal preference or choice?

The devil’s in the details – ignore & chaos will ensue

Here is some advice on how to choose a spokesperson strong enough to advocate and follow your clearly given instructions and not simply just follow their own inclination.

Ask up front if the person you choose will take on the specific responsibility of being a Power of Attorney before entering their names in a Power of Attorney documents.  There are a number of reasons why a person, understanding the honour of this role, may have a need to refuse.

Arrange for your annual taxes to be done by an “arm’s length” person, or accountant to protect you and your Power of Attorneys to be safe from allegations of impropriety. You should also review your relationships with these people on a frequent basis to make sure you are being served well.

In one of my many educational presentations called Take the Chaos out of Crisis™, I advise getting your will up-dated as often as particular life changes occur that may cause you to rethink, (such as divorce, or one of your children gets married), and having Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal care put in writing.

Attach to your Power of Attorney for Personal Care a directive instructing your preference for care.  The instructions must be – what is legally possible, what can reasonably be done, and what will lead to positive outcomes and good quality of life. I stress that information is vital and numbers rule.

Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc has an excellent on line resource to help collect information under its Consumer Information drop box.  They call this a “Virtual Shoebox”. It is 27 pages long, so read before printing it out, since not all of the 27 pages will be pertinent to your situation.  Along with other details, include the user names and passwords for on line banking, bills, subscriptions, – and not to forget social media platforms you use. These days this could be a longer list than what space there is on this shoe box document.

Congratulations. You are now the leader in your personal advocacy team. Now with this action plan in place you have a well set out record of vital information and wonderful resource for your chosen spokespersons who by the way, may include others besides your current designated Power of Attorney. As with managing your computer system, backup is recommended.

 

Mary Ellen Tomlinson

 

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