Over the past few years, a lot has changed between my father and I. Somewhere along the way, the lines between father and daughter got blurry and we switched sides. If I have learned anything from this role reversal, it’s that when the child becomes the parent, all bets are off. My hope is that I will be able to help others like me figure out how to navigate these murky waters, and to share my experiences with you.
My journey began once my siblings and I realized that our father was starting to make poor decisions regarding his health, his finances, and his life in general. We knew something had to be done, so we asked him to appoint one of us as Power of Attorney. The initial conversation was not all warm and fuzzy – but it needed to be done. There was no real science behind his decision. I was the eldest child, so I got the job. The understanding was that I would consult my other siblings on anything important, and if I needed help, they would lend a hand.
As my father’s Power of Attorney, I have learned the hard way that: no one cares about the fate of your loved one as much as you do. If you do not write down every little conversation that you have, with the name of the person you spoke with, and the day and time the conversation took place, including every action that you discussed, you will regret it. That’s a promise.
To make sure that I don’t find myself fumbling over the nitty-gritty details that are required in this position, I make sure that I photocopy every check and document that I send; I use certified mail with return receipts; and I keep everything neatly stored in a filing cabinet. Throughout this process, I have found that insurance companies, doctors’ offices, banks and governmental agencies are notorious for “misplacing” documents: I have heard every excuse in the book, including the fax machine ate it. However, I am always able to back up my claims because I keep incredibly detailed records of everything.
So, my first tidbit of advice is: always be detail-oriented. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep track of every little detail about everything. Again, be detail-oriented always.