Caregiving- Perspective on the Legal Responsibilities

The Caregiver Conference is coming up this week and St. Michael is honored to be part of this event. I also would like to take this opportunity to share some things I have learned throughout the process. While it is an honor to give care to a our loved ones, we should all be mindful and take into considerations some legal responsibilities.

Personal and Spiritual.

Some people say that how caregivers care for their loved ones often is reflected or seen in the patient. I think caregiving is very spiritual and personal.

This point maybe difficult to explain however an example would be, when I was caring for my husband, looking back honestly, my husband remained calm through out the process. There are a lot of factors contributing to this state of calmness.

Part of healing is reconciliation with your past (regrets, misgivings and other emotional issues) that must be addressed from the very beginning. According to Dr. Jayne Dabu of Lotus Acupuncture in Virginia Beach, diseases are related to emotions and stress.

Our pastor, family and close friends were a testament of having that strong emotional and spiritual support that brought healing and created an environment of peace and spiritual strength to under go the most challenging time of his life. We are grateful for their relentless support.

Moral Responsibility/Estate Planning

We all agree that caregiving is a moral responsibility – to preserve life , provide quality of life and ensure the patient’s right to live are the utmost priorities. Estate planning must be in place. This is one of the many tasks that must be done prior to getting sick.

While it is painful to have those conversations regarding estate planning, it is a conversation that ease the caregivers or loved ones left behind in the painful transition should the inevitable thing happens. It also prevents the legal hassles and stress later on.

Power of Attorney -A power of attorney (POA) or letter of attorney is a legal document written giving authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter. This a very important document that allows either the caregiver (usually the wife) or designated person be given the ability to handle financial matters and even medical decisions for the person you are caring for should they become incapacitated.

Revocable Living Trust – This legal document can be altered or canceled dependent on the grantor during the life of the trust, income earned is distributed to the grantor, and only after death does property transfer to the beneficiaries.

Last Will of Testament – Another important legal document is the will or testament in which a person expresses their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution. 

DNR- Do Not Resuscitate – For some patients who particularly wish for the option of natural death there must be a signed/notarized DNR hard copy of the document. You must have this document on hand at all times. Emergency responders and medical staff will need this document on site unless a document is already filed at the hospital or living facility or else they will proceed with their protocol to resuscitate the patient and receive CPR.

While writing this blog is causing me painful emotions, I think this information must be shared and hopefully can help other caregivers.

Cecilia Ramirez, CEO, St. Michael & Company