As we celebrate Father’s Day this week, some of us know Dads who are feeling or showing their age. Therein lies the conundrum. Do they need and do they want help? Perhaps he can drive his car and take care of his finances. He can still do minor repairs on the house. Sooner or later, however, he will need help whether or not he wants to admit it.
How do you lend a hand when it is clear that Dad can’t do int all alone? Some older men will accept help without much of a transitional fuss. Others will feel a loss of independence and fight receiving help that may be obviously needed.
Even those dads who are willing to accept help may be a little caution. It is important not to over control his activity and, perhaps, allow him to continue to be engaged to the extent of his ability and energy. Allow him to delegate the tasks that are burdensome or unpleasant. He may want to get professional help rather than feeling he is burdening family.
While Dad is of sound mind and body, it is a good idea to make sure he has a proper Power of Attorney in place. A POA is a legal authorization that gives a designated person the power to act for someone else. As such, a POA gives the designee the authority to act on behalf of Dad.
There are two types of POAs, notably financial and health care—both of which provide the designee with general or limited powers. An estate planning attorney can help, though there are many examples of such forms online. They will have to be witnessed and notarized in any case.
If Dad has declined to the point where he cannot legally act on his own behalf and has not put Powers of Attorney in place already or other documents that name responsible family or friends to act in his best interests, it may be necessary to take other legal action that protects him and his estate.
If Dad is beginning to show signs of incapacity it may be the right time to begin the process of petitioning the court to name a guardian. For this you will need an estate planning attorney to petition the court for guardianship or conservatorship. This is a long and challenging process but could be necessary in the absence of an established POA.
Sometimes it is necessary to call in other help. An Aging Life Care Manager, usually a Social Worker or a Nurse can be a good addition to the family team. In-home care is another option that can relieve family of some of the responsibility of caring for Dad for short or longer-term engagements.