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Documents Every Caregiver Should Have and Understand

If you have a family member or other adult who counts on you for support and guidance, it's important to plan for the future by collecting the documents that describe their decisions about their care. Having this information before an emergency, or if a loved one can't speak for themselves, will help lessen the stress in a time of crisis.

View our Take Care of the Caregiver online seminar by Barbara K. Moeller, RN, PHN (aired May 15, 2012).

Helpful documents include:

  • Advance Directive (Living Will): Provides information and instruction about their care wishes, should they become terminally ill or incapacitated.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: Signed by your loved one, this document gives you the authority to make decisions on some or all of their affairs.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: Authorizes you to make medical decisions on behalf of your loved one. You may provide direction to the medical team according to your loved one's wishes.
  • Up-to-Date Will: Directs who will manage their estate and how to distribute property after death.
  • Other documentation such as birth certificate, deed to home, insurance policy information, and financial records: Knowing where these documents are before your loved one becomes unable to tell you, will allow you to make the most informed decisions.

Planning for tomorrow is one way to be proactive, help ease stress and strengthen peace of mind. You'll be able to empower your loved ones to express their wishes work through your questions together.

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