Long Term Care Planning Steps and Legal Documents

Houston Long Term Care News

How does someone plan for long term care? In simple terms, long term care planning involves someone deciding and documenting their desires for the end of their life. This would include having a co-decider for healthcare decisions in the event the person cannot make any or all decisions for themselves.

power of attorney document

Long term care planning involves reviewing someones wishes, filing proper legal documents, such as living wills and power-of attorney and assigning a health care proxy – a friend, relative or professional fiduciary (like a lawyer) who can make health care decisions for an individual in the event of incapacitation.

Long term care planning considerations should include an individuals personal concerns, values and beliefs, religious or spiritual beliefs, financial matters and ultimately what an individual wants for themselves.

Understandably, many aging seniors are uncomfortable or reluctant to discuss issues or ideas pertaining to end of life. In this case sharing thoughts you may have can help, particularly if you have experienced the process with another family member or friend. If you are assisting someone with these difficult decisions, it is important to meet their desires as much as practically possible and recognize it is not always easy or convenient to do so.

Lastly, an individual planning for long term care needs to select someone they trust to make health care decisions for them if they are incapacitated. This is often called a health care proxy. It is important to have someone who truly understands and can administer an individuals desires and instructions, including wishes about life-saving or sustaining measures and treatments.

Types of Long Term Care Planning Documents

Long term care planning documents relating to end of life situations are generally referred to as advance directives. More specifically, the legal documents commonly used are living wills, medical power of attorney, durable power of attorney and do not resuscitate orders.

Living wills, also known as medical directives, are legally binding, written instructions for someone’s health care in the event they are incapacitated. They describe the health measures or procedures someone wants administered and those they don’t. There can be other related documents that communicate your wishes to various parties, such as physicians, an elder lawyer and family members.

The second type of long term care planning document is a medical power of attorney or “health care proxy” and it names a person legally assigned to be a health care decision-maker. This is the person who decides for someone if they are unable to do so for themselves. Many states have a downloadable legal form you may use to name a health care proxy.

A third long term care planning document is called a durable power of attorney. This document names an individual to make decisions for someone relating to personal finances, taxes and business matters. It does not give decision making authority for health matters. That is accomplished with the medical power of attorney.

Another legal document for long term care planning is a do not resuscitate order. This is something an individual may want to include in their master medical file to notify care centers and practitioners that they do not want life saving measures or procedures administered in the event of a heart attack or respiratory failure. The DNR order can be part of your planning documents, or you may contact your healthcare providers directly and enact it using readily available and free forms online.

It is advised to use the services of an experienced elder lawyer in your state to review and make official these important long term care planning documents. You may use the forms available on your specific state’s health and human services websites, or the forms recommended by your lawyer.  Texas has several different forms used for long term care planning.

Texas Long Term Care Planning Documents

Texas Directive to Physicians
http://www.dads.state.tx.us/news_info/publications/handbooks/advancedirectives.html

Texas Medical Power of Attorney
http://www.dads.state.tx.us/news_info/publications/handbooks/advancedirectives.html

Texas Durable Power of Attorney
http://texasprobate.net/forms/poa.htm

Texas Declaration of Guardian
http://texasprobate.net/forms/dgadult.htm

Texas Do-Not Resuscitate Order
http://www.dads.state.tx.us/news_info/publications/handbooks/advancedirectives.html

Additional Tips for Successful Long Term Planning

Make sure long term care planing documents are easy to find, stored safely and be sure to have at least one set of copies stored in another location or place in the home. It also important to give and review a copy with the selected health care proxy and anyone else who may need to respond in an emergency (family members, friends, etc.). The health care proxy and certain family members, friends, physicians, and the elder lawyer should all have copies which are readily available in the event of an emergency.

Lastly, an individual should review long term care planning documents regularly to be sure they are still satisfied with the decisions made in them. It is also recommended to regularly review whether the health care proxy is still willing and capable to fulfill their role and responsibilities.

Tags: long term care planning, long term care Houston, long term care planning documents, Texas Medical Power of Attorney, Texas Durable Power of Attorney, Texas health care proxy, Texas living will

About

William Hardy, Jr., is co-founder and President of CareWorks in Houston, Texas, a home care services agency. He is a leader in the elder care community as well as an advocate for the well being and dignity of our senior citizens. William is a third generation Houstonian. He and his wife Holly, a fifth generation Houstonian, love Houston and the people, especially its senior citizens. They have been married for over 25 years and have two sons.

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