One of the biggest issues that people seem to have with aging parents is how to handle medical decisions. For many children of older adults, it just makes sense for them to make the decisions. Parents, after all, can sometimes be difficult and stubborn and might not always do what is in their own best interest. However, dealing with this issue is something that needs to be done carefully because your parents should always be in control of their own health decisions as long as they are capable of doing so.
In New York, a new healthcare proxy is being introduced to the Senate and Assembly. This bill is designed to allow the principal signer (the older parent) to name someone to help with their medical decisions on their behalf. Of course, the principal always has the final say over what happens, but it makes it legally possible for aging adults to allow their family members to help with health decisions and be involved in their care. Until now, everyone assumed that this was possible, but there is really no legally binding way to guarantee that children can help their aging parents by making medical decisions and handling healthcare issues.
This process should be a conversation, always. If parents want help or don’t want to deal with various aspects of their healthcare, they should be allowed to let someone else make the decisions. However, if they are of sound mind and still want to be in charge, they should be. It is their life, after all. With this bill, more aging adults will be able to rely on family members when they need them, but without the hassles and complications of having to tell everyone that it’s okay to talk to someone else or the risk that a specific company or entity might not allow it.
The great thing about this bill is that if older adults change their minds, they can rip up the agreement and go back to making their own decisions. However, they can also choose which issues to handle and which ones to pass on to their children because they don’t feel like making decisions or aren’t sure of what is going on. This is a great step forward for active adults and their families because healthcare decisions are one of the biggest issues that we face later in life, and they need to be handled with care.