Can you make medical decisions for a parent declining care?

by | Jan 29, 2021 | Elder Law |

It’s hard for anyone to watch their parents decline, but for some people, the experience can be particularly traumatic. Older adults struggling with cognitive function sometimes become despondent and might begin refusing medical care or failing to take care of themselves properly.

Especially if you believe that such behavior is the result of Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive issues, you may want to step in and help protect your parent. Whether they declined a surgery that would extend their life or won’t go to the doctor when they need help, you may know they are no longer making decisions in their own best interest. Can you make medical decisions on your parent’s behalf?

If your parent can no longer take care of themselves, you may need to help

In some ways, those experiencing cognitive decline while they age can be a lot like children. They may not think about the long-term consequences of their behavior or the implications of their actions on the people who love them. They may not make decisions based on logic or could even do things that put themselves or others at risk.

Provided that you have medical records affirming their condition and other evidence of their declining cognitive abilities, you may be able to ask the probate courts to empower you to help them. Under New York guardianship laws, those concerned about older adults who seem to have lost testamentary capacity can seek a guardianship. If approved, a guardian can make major decisions on the part of another adult.

Don’t let your parent’s issues impact their health or safety

If your parent has already reached a point where they cannot speak on their own behalf in a legal capacity, they cannot authorize you to make decisions on their behalf by creating a power of attorney. Even if you have an existing power of attorney, unless it is a durable power of attorney, it lost its legal authority when your loved one lost their ability to enter into legal agreements on their own behalf.

While your loved one may not be happy about the guardianship arrangements, it will protect them and give you peace of mind. You don’t want them to fail to act or make a bad decision that results in their own death, especially if you can help support them as they age. When you have the authority to make medical decisions for your parents, you will know that they can get the care they need.