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Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) Explained

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/13/2010 3:54:22 PM

Being the caregiver to a senior loved one has rewarding moments, but also entails tough decisions. In some instances exercising a power of attorney regarding seniors may become necessary.

This would generally occur when a senior loved one no longer is able to make their own decisions regarding health care. Before this occurs, caregivers can help to create a Durable Power of Attorney for senior health care.

What is Durable Power of Attorney?

A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a legal document that authorizes a person to grant important decisions on someone's behalf should they themselves become unable. In senior care, a DPOA is often used to document the senior's health care wishes. It also grants a particular person (generally a family member or caregiver) the permission to make decisions should that senior become unable to do so him or herself.

This document would generally take effect only after a doctor has given a signature stating that the senior is no longer medically able to make decisions on their own.

Why Should My Senior Loved One Have a DPOA?

A Durable Power of Attorney can help caregivers ensure that the health care wishes of their senior loved one are carried out.

In a perfect setting, all caregivers will agree on every aspect of caring for a senior. However, that is not always the case, especially involving difficult health care choices. Where there is a DPOA, even if there are disagreements, the senior's needs and wants are laid out legally and can be taken care of as they desire.

How Can Caregivers Help Seniors Create a DPOA?

A DPOA should solely be comprised of the wishes of the senior loved one, however, caregivers can help in the search for lawyers. They also can provide aid by offering support and encouraging the loved one to think wisely about any decisions.

Caregivers should explain to seniors that they need to pick the right person and that this should be someone they trust. A DPOA can be customized and personalized with the help of a law center and there are general DPOA forms available that can be notarized and made legal.

However, customizing them to specifically lay out the needs of a senior loved one will be more beneficial in ensuring that their personal wishes are enforced.

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