I was fortunate. My father lived a long, healthy life to age 91. His last year was difficult with dementia, a fall leading to rehab, and then another leading to the nursing home. But that’s how it goes. Whether we are the one who ages, the spouse, or the child, we don’t get to decide how these events will play out. Truth be told, the process is not fun. If you are close with the one you are losing – you should try to remember the good times, and if the mind is still working, cherish together fond memories and maybe laugh at the absurdity of what you’re all going through. I always say, time passes. Sometimes time heals as well, but there is certainty that whatever difficult times you face, the clock will continue to advance forward.

Two simple documents – the Durable Power of Attorney and the Healthcare Power of Attorney or Patient Advocate are critical during these times. The DPOA allows you take care of your loved one’s financial and business matters as if you were them. It can be banking, dealing with the cable company when they overcharge the bill (I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but my father kept getting charged for Cinemax, when he did not even know it existed!), housing and care arrangements. The list is endless, and without it – you’re forced to get your ailing mother or father on the phone or to sign documents – which makes the issues far more burdensome. The Patient Advocate is absolutely essential at the hospital. It allows you to make the difficult call at the end stage of life in a manner consistent with your loved one’s desire. Without it, you are at the mercy of hospital administration and if one family member disagrees with what you consider the proper course, problems arise because the hospital does not want to be caught in the middle of a dispute.

I can’t make the time when your loved one is moving on easy – it’s not an easy process. But I can assure you – having the right documents in place will make the process far easier – something you will want for your loved one – and for yourself. Rest assured.