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Facilitating Healthcare for Aging Parents: What the Law Says

Your parent is growing old and needs help troubleshooting medical problems. You want to help and are ready to identify solutions. How do you facilitate healthcare for an older parent while respecting the bounds of the law? Here are a couple things you need to know up front.

Some Seniors Need Help Making Medical Decisions

At this time, can your loved one make informed decisions about his or her own health treatment options? If a senior is not able to make a decision, then a trustworthy individual must be named ‘power of attorney’ in order to make medical decisions on their behalf. This is also true of financial decisions. Power of attorney is formalized through two legal documents which cover medical and financial decisions, respectively.

The job of the medical power of attorney is to fulfill the wishes of the senior in their charge, insofar as those wishes are known. If the senior has treatment preferences, for example, it is up to the medical power of attorney to make sure they receive the type of care they prefer. In the United States, research shows that about 9 out of 10 seniors prefer to remain at home as they age, receiving hourly or 24 hour home care.

Seniors Have a Right to Confidentiality

Seniors, like any other age group in America, have a right to medical confidentiality and privacy under a federal law called HIPAA – the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. In short, HIPAA disallows health care providers from discussing a person’s health status and treatment with anyone else – including the members of their family. In other words, by default, adult children are not allowed to know about or discuss their parent’s health with an attending physician without first getting specialized permission.

Permission is provided through a HIPAA release or ‘authorization’ form, which the senior can sign off on. Concerned families use the release form to stay in the know about elder relatives’ health and the care they are receiving. Release forms can be obtained from the senior’s healthcare provider.

How to Move Forward

When an aging parent or loved one has expressed his or her desires for the future, it is important for families to begin the planning process – despite how difficult and emotional the process may be. A great way to start is to check out local home care agencies in Boca Raton, who can discuss options for long-term care. With flexible care plans available, seniors can also utilize care agencies to promote independence for as long as possible.

Learn more about Home Care Assistance, a leading hourly and live-in senior care provider in Boca Raton by contacting a friendly and devoted Care Manager at 561-826-9282.