Get Power of Attorney for an Elderly Parent

When your father can’t remember his own name, let alone where he banks, it’s time to get power of attorney. You won’t regret it and hopefully he won’t either.

An elder and a daughter

Long-term Memories to Live By

Lamonte could recall Martin Luther King’s 1967 Massey Lecture In Toronto as clearly as if it was yesterday. “The freedom road links us together,” MLK said, as Lamonte proudly told his sons, Desmonde and Jamal. Lamonte was thrilled to be there, just as he was to help fellow blacks immigrate to Canada from his native United States. He had a lot of good memories in his career and he didn’t mind sharing them.

An Interrupted Retirement

When it came time to retire in 2018, Lamonte’s kids helped him move from a Toronto rental to a tidy Kent Street condo in London. His new home was near Budweiser Gardens, where he could follow Ontario Hockey League games and rock concerts. Life was good. He could finally kick back and relax after a successful, 45-year career.

What to Do if Your Parent is Confused

Lately though, Lamonte was having problems with his favourite CNN political shows. It wasn’t that he didn’t agree with the commentators’ opinions (most of the time). He just couldn’t quite ‘get’ what they were saying, literally. Some days Lamonte also had trouble finding words. He was drawing a blank, but smiling reassuringly to cover up his confusion. 

Routine Tasks Become Too Much

Reading recipes on microwave containers was the worst. Lamonte had pretty well given up cooking anything other than canned soup. Jamal was surprised to learn he lived mostly on K-pod coffee and peanut butter toast. He only discovered that when the condo manager called to report his father had set off the smoke detector (again) by letting a kettle boil dry on the stove. Jamal was worried that his father was more talkative than usual, yet rarely left the condo to go to the Gardens anymore.  

Early Signs of Dementia You May Miss

Desmonde, a hospital orderly, realized he and Jamal had missed many of the signs their father was developing dementia, maybe even Alzheimer’s:

  • Impaired language, memory and focus
  • forgetting everyday routines
  • listlessness or apathy
  • becoming more outgoing due to judgment gaps
  • difficulty with directions or instructions
  • fear of the unfamiliar.  

Eventually, Lamonte’s memory, thinking, judgment, language and problem solving skills, personality and ability to move on his own could all be affected if he had dementia.

Participating in Legal Planning with Dementia

A positive diagnosis of early onset, mild Alzheimer’s disease was helpful, but raised legal and financial questions for Desmonde, Jamal and Lamonte. Since Lamonte was still functioning fairly well, he could participate in planning his future. Alzheimer’s could take between three and 20 years to reach the point where their father was bedridden. While it would claim his life some day, Lamonte still had many good years ahead.

An elder with Alzheimer's

What to Expect in Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Confusion, forgetfulness and the need for help with everyday activities such as dressing or eating increases as Alzheimer’s gets worse. Poor judgment, wandering, repeating favourite stories and unreasonable beliefs, such as thinking caregivers are stealing from them, are common. Restlessness and agitation can occur, especially if the person sees or hears things that don’t exist. In the most severe stages, patients may be incoherent or rarely speak. They need total assistance 24/7. During final stages, patients may be unable to hold up their head, walk or swallow. Death from pneumonia or an infection is usual.

Getting Power of Attorney for an Ontario Parent

Movies like Still Alice and The Notebook humanize Alzheimer’s. It’s easy to see why getting power of attorney for a parent who is ill is so important. While Lamonte could still be party to health and financial decisions, Desmonde and Jamal arranged to transfer decision making so he had the help he needed.

Power of Attorney for Personal Care

Lamonte agreed Desmonde could make health care, housing and personal decisions for him, such as about his meals and clothing, when he was unable to. His oldest son worked at a hospital and had connections at assisted living and communal care facilities for Alzheimer’s patients. As Lamonte’s memory worsened, he would welcome the 24-hour medical care and social activities. Desmonde would make difficult choices, like whether to intubate their father if he was struggling to breathe or resuscitate him if he had a heart attack. 

Power of Attorney for Property

Jamal was given responsibility for Lamonte’s financial affairs. He would list and sell the condo so Lamonte could move in with him. When his father became too confused to pay his bills, buy groceries or manage his investments, Jamal would do that for him. The brothers would discuss major decisions and ask a therapist for help if they couldn’t agree.

Power of Attorney Advice from London, Ontario Lawyers

Axess Law’s London lawyers can help you arrange power of attorney for an aging parent or family member with a disability. Dial toll free to 1-877-552-9377 or 647-479-0118 in Toronto or use our online booking form to make a video conference appointment in London or anywhere in Ontario. Our licensed lawyers connect with you via video call 7 days a week, day or evening. In person appointments are available at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Etobicoke, Vaughan, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices. 
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s power of attorney services.