Three times in the last week the team at Autonomy First has been asked to help clients who are facing choices that challenge their decision-making abilities for a variety of reasons.
The common thread across all cases was the clients all thought they could handle the problem themselves but were struggling with the task. In all cases a concerned person had intervened and had brought us in to help resolve the presenting issue.
“I should have got Dad to make a Power of Attorney and Guardianship years ago…”
In one case we were told “I should have got Dad to make a Power of Attorney and Guardianship years ago. He is not very mobile. It was all too hard. I had no ideas that a lawyer would come to our house.”
Do Autonomy First Lawyers do house calls? Yes, this conversation took place on the verandah of the father’s home. In this case, it was the home care provider working with the family who provided the introduction to Autonomy First, seeing that help was needed.
Expressing will and preference
The father was also suffering memory problems. However, over a two-hour meeting, he was able to express his will and preference regarding the care he needed which family members he wanted to help him. He could explain who he trusted and why and what he wanted to happen after his death.
Lessons for clients and professionals
What are the lessons from this experience?
- The scope of what could be done was limited by the demonstrated scope of the father’s decision-making.
- If we could have been involved earlier, at a time when the father had been more able, we could have completed the task more time and cost effectively. The substance of what needed to be done is not likely to have been much different. The experience, however, could be more satisfactory and set the father and his supporters on a more constructive and supportive journey.
The earlier we can be called in, the better…
So, the earlier we can be called in, the better the result will be for the client, their representatives and supporters. Ageing is a multi-decade journey more often than not.
Planning for that journey sets a context for how supporters and representatives work together to advance the will and preference of the person under care.
The earlier we can intervene in helping people age well, the better for all!