CDPAP Resources

Legal Documents Every Caregiver Needs to Manage a Senior’s Health Care

Legal Documents Every Caregiver Needs to Manage a Senior’s Health Care

When it comes to managing a loved one’s medical care, it’s important to understand the laws and policies that regulate the health care industry. These policies are meant to protect our sensitive health information, but they can also pose serious problems for family and friends acting as caregivers.

Unfortunately, many families and caregivers do not realize there is special paperwork required for them to participate in a loved one’s care. There are ways to gain access to a loved one’s or clients medical records and make medical decisions on their behalf, but the legal documentation must be established before they may become necessary. 

Managing a senior’s health care requires several important legal documents to ensure that caregivers and loved ones can make informed and authorized decisions. To avoid any added stress and roadblocks regarding their care, make sure these necessary legal documents are prepared so you can make critical care decisions.

Health Care Proxy or Medical Power of Attorney (POA)

This document allows a senior to appoint someone (a proxy) to handle specific health care decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so. A medical POA grants the proxy access to medical information as well as the ability to make medical decisions on behalf of a care recipient in the event they become incapacitated. There is a catch, though – this document must be prepared while the individual still has the mental capacity to give an agent these powers. Medical power of attorney documents are crucial for long term care planning.

HIPAA Authorization

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization form allows designated individuals to access a senior’s medical records and information. HIPAA authorization is a simple yet important document for family caregivers, as it ensures caregivers can discuss the senior’s medical condition and treatment with healthcare providers. This form is easy and quick to fill out and every doctor’s office should have blanks ones available for their patients.

Advance Care Directives

This comprehensive document includes both the living will and the POA. It details the senior’s wishes regarding medical care and appoints someone to make decisions if they are unable to do so. A living will outlines a senior’s wishes regarding medical treatment and life-sustaining measures if they are unable to communicate their decisions. The living will typically indicates specific treatments, such as CPR or life support, that a person does or does not want to receive under certain circumstances. This can include a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order specifying that no resuscitative measures should be taken if the senior’s heart stops or if they stop breathing. To learn more about other advance care planning documents, read Advance Care Directives: Preparations for the Unforeseeable Future.

Insurance Documents

Having up-to-date health insurance policies, Medicare/Medicaid information, and long-term care insurance policies is crucial for caregivers to manage medical expenses and ensure coverage for necessary treatments and services.

Ensuring that these documents are in place and accessible can help caregivers provide the best possible care while respecting the senior’s wishes and legal rights. To avoid unnecessary stress and confusion, talk to your family members about getting their affairs in order. It is important for all adults to discuss their personal wishes with loved ones while they are still young and healthy. Once a health care emergency strikes, it is usually too late to prepare these documents.