LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Step up to help an older loved one prepare for an emergency

And while you're at it, take care of your own important paperwork, too

Smiling elderly man

Image caption: Helping a senior loved one gather important information can make it easier for a caregiver to step in and help out.

Image credit: GETTY IMAGES

Many unexpected emergencies can arise when you're caring for an adult loved one. That's why it is never too early to compile important paperwork.

Care.com, which you have access to as a Johns Hopkins employee, has an emergency checklist for seniors and their caregivers. Gathering details such as physicians' names and numbers, prescription information, and even contact information for friends or neighbors can make it easier for a caregiver to step in and help out. Don't worry if you don't have all the items from the emergency checklist right now; start by partnering with your loved one on a small goal that is easy to accomplish and work your way through the list over time.

Included on the emergency checklist are two types of important legal documents:

  • An advance medical directive allows individuals to appoint someone to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so themselves. Maryland residents may use a free template available from the Office of the Attorney General.
  • A financial power of attorney allows individuals to appoint someone to make financial or legal decisions on their behalf. There are different types of powers of attorney that offer limited or broad powers, and you should choose the one that's right for you.

If you want guidance, an elder law attorney is a professional who can assist you. Maryland's Department of Aging has a Sixty Plus Legal Program for low-income seniors who need to create their powers of attorney.

While you are helping your loved one gather these important legal documents, take a moment to review your own. If you have not yet created your own powers of attorney, you can get started by using your Hopkins benefits. Through mySupport, you and your household family members have access to free legal templates and are entitled to a free 30-minute consultation with an attorney to answer basic questions. Legal templates and a free consultation are also available to employees insured through the university's life insurance provider, Securian Financial.

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