Elder Law Priorities
The problem is that while our bodies are being tuned to run forever - with replacement parts available for what wears out - our minds are not keeping pace - and so far a brain transplant is not in the medical arsenal. That dilemma carries with it many consequences, not the least of which is that others need to have the authority to handle the legal, financial and medical affairs of those who can no longer make those decisions for themselves. The trouble is that arrangements for granting that authority need to be made while the strapping senior is still mentally vigorous, too. That means executing durable powers of attorney and health care directives before the fog of incapacity drifts in, which we all know can happen almost overnight. It happens instantly if there's an unexpected medical emergency, and who wants to worry about having their legal ducks in a row when they're preoccupied with stressful treatment decisions for their family members.
This isn't to say that nothing can be done if the moment for decision has been lost. It's just that the alternative is court-supervised guardianship, which is an expensive, time-consuming hassle to get established and then to administer year after year. Lawyers love them - they're like mini pensions - but unless you love your lawyer enough to pay to see her every year, you're not likely to be as enamored.
OK, so how do you get these magic documents for yourself or your elders? Again, lawyers are often the source if you want them done correctly and thoroughly, but they may not have to be done more than once - or at least more than once every 5 or 10 years. And if you want to save on health care directives, you can go to healthynh.com and download a perfectly good form there, along with the instructions on how to execute it properly.
I had a great friend who was sharp as a tack until he died last year just short of 100. We should all be so lucky. The irony is that medical advances are making it less likely for that to happen. So like having our knees and hips replaced, we need to take other important steps - or help our elders do so.