Parkinson's Disease patients and caregivers can run into a lot of obstacles with hospitals, nursing homes and assisted care facilities that can severely jeopardize the health and well being of a Parkinson's patient. These facilities want to keep control of the patient treatment process with no "interference" from the patient themselves or their appointed agent (caregiver). It is important for people with Parkinson's and their caregivers to know their rights under the law.
One of the most of important legal documents that should be completed and signed is the Medical Durable Power Of Attorney (MDPOA). This legal document puts control of the patient treatment in the hands of the appointed agent (caregiver) if the patient lacks the decisional capability himself rather then with the medical facility or doctor. An MDPOA is distinctly different from a Living Will and it is important to know the differences.
A Living Will only covers end-of-life decisions. An MDPOA covers a person's care throughout his or her life (if the patient is incapable of making decisions themselves) and end-of-life decisions. So the MDPOA is a much broader document in scope. In an MDPOA, the person appoints an agent (someone they trust to make the decisions the person themselves would make if that person were capable of doing so) and provides guidelines for the agent to follow so that the agent knows generally what the person would want when decisions need to be made for their on-going medical care and treatment and for their final end-of-life decisions. With an MDPOA, the agent makes all the decisions based on the advice of the medical professionals and what is stated in the MDPOA including end-of-life decisions. In a Living Will, the medical professionals make the final decision on when and whether it's time to carry out those wishes. The important distinction here is that, with a Living Will, the family (caregiver) has no ability to stop the medical professionals from carrying out the Living Will directives even if the family might think that there is hope for recovery or that the doctors are wrong.
Based upon the 1st hand experiences of many Parkinson's Disease patients and their families who didn’t have an MDPOA in place or didn’t understand the law as it pertains to MDPOA’s, this is a particularly important distinction for Parkinson's Disease patients because, unfortunately, most medical professionals do not understand Parkinson's Disease. They do not seem to understand how important the Parkinson's medications are or how important the timing of the medications are, especially for advanced stage Parkinson’s Disease patients. Therefore, the medical professionals tend to put the Parkinson's medications on the back burner and only concentrate on the condition that brought the patient into the hospital instead. As a consequence, without the proper medication amounts and schedule, the Parkinson's patients body will start to shut down. Most doctors don't seem to realize that if, for example, an advanced stage Parkinson’ Disease patient comes in with pneumonia or a bowl blockage, they have no chance of recovery without their Parkinson's medications because they need their muscles to be working well in order to remedy the problem and recover. When the body starts to shut, it looks like the person is dying and the professionals will then jump into end-of-life mode and allow the person to die. They don't seem to realize that if the person could get back onto their medication routine, they would, in almost all cases, recover. If this happens, which, unfortunately, is a pretty common situation for Parkinson’s Disease patients to be in, the family must intercede and demand that their loved one be put back on their medication regiment. Without an MDPOA, the family can do nothing.
An MDPOA is an extremely important part of any estate planning especially for Parkinson’s Disease patients. It is imperative that you know the law as it pertains to MDPOA’s because medical facilities and doctors will attempt to convince you that you (the agent) do not have the right to intercede when in fact you do. An MDPOA must be done while the person is legally competent and capable of making his or her wishes known. Contact an attorney or create it yourself by researching the Colorado statutes on the required elements that must be included in an MDPOA in order for it to be a legal and enforceable document. See our website for a copy of the law.Copies of the actual law are available for download as a Medical Power Of Attorney Law MS word.doc or an Medical Power Of Attorney Law Adobe PDF file.
Attached are 3 documents that you can use courtesy of John C Buckley III, Esq. and the Buckley Law Center. The attached documents can help you with your estate planning. The 1st is a Presentation PDF file for estate planning that John presented at our September meeting. The file is called Parkinson's Basic Planning. If you missed the meeting or want to review what was talked about this file will help you with your estate planning needs.
The 2nd file is the Remembrance Instruction Form which can help plan out your final remembrance wishes for your family and/or estate planner.
The 3rd file is The Anatomical Gift FormAnatomical Gift Form which is useful if you plan to donate any or all your organs.
These files are typically included with your Living Will, HIPA documents, and Medical Durable Power of Attorney
Know your rights