Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can significantly impact an individual’s ability to make decisions, particularly with regards to medical and financial matters. As the condition progresses, a person with dementia may become unable to make decisions or communicate their wishes effectively. This is where powers of attorney can play a critical role in ensuring that the individual’s needs and preferences are respected.
A medical power of attorney (MPOA) can be particularly important for individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, as it allows a trusted family member or friend to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. This includes decisions regarding medical treatment, hospitalization, and end-of-life care. For example, if a person with Alzheimer’s disease develops an infection and requires antibiotics, but is unable to make the decision to accept treatment, the agent designated in the MPOA can make that decision on their behalf. The agent is legally required to make decisions in accordance with the person’s known wishes and preferences, and to act in their best interests.
Similarly, a general power of attorney (GPOA) can be used to allow a designated agent to manage the person’s financial affairs. This can include paying bills, managing investments, and making legal decisions. For example, if a person with Alzheimer’s disease forgets to pay their utility bills or make mortgage payments, their agent can step in and manage those financial matters for them. The agent is legally required to act in the person’s best interests and to manage their affairs in a responsible and ethical manner.
It’s important to note that a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease must have the capacity to understand what they are doing when they sign a power of attorney. If they do not have the capacity, it may be necessary to go through legal proceedings to establish a guardianship or conservatorship to make decisions on their behalf.
POA, or power of attorney can play an important role in ensuring that the needs and preferences of individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are respected. By designating a trusted family member or friend to make decisions on their behalf, individuals can ensure that their wishes are followed and their needs are met.
National Institute on Aging. (2022). Legal and Financial Planning for People with Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/legal-and-financial-planning-people-alzheimers
American Bar Association. (2022). Power of Attorney. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/power_of_attorney/
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. (2022). Powers of Attorney. Retrieved from https://www.naela.org/Public/About/Content_Public/What_is_Elder_Law/Powers_of_Attorney.aspx