Empowering Seniors With Supported Decision Making

By Evelyn (Evie) Preston, The Money Lady

Q: Can’t relatives help with

decision making?

I could write a book on the hours I spent and the hurdles I jumped trying to help my brother navigate his life as he slowly succumbed to dementia. He refused to give up control but needed extensive clarification and repetition—just for the paperwork.

From the pharmacy to the bank, I filled endless forms proving who I was and begging for his info. Trying to deal with his life took over mine! With SDM, I’d have

had legal access from the start.

Q: Who would be responsible for the final decision?

The senior—capable in most cases—retains the dignity to decide on their own, a true win-win situation. As Linda noted, often the difference in understanding details or making an informed decision works more smoothly over a cup of tea at home.

Linda kindly shared a composite case study:

Mary, age 88, is undergoing treatment for cancer which leaves her with “brain fog” for a few days each month.

Mary has always been very independent. She has never married and has no children or close relatives. She does have several friends that she relies on. Mary wanted to plan for her future so, she sold her home and is now residing in a senior living facility. She has gone to her attorney and prepared her estate planning documents naming a bank trust department as the successor trustee.

While Mary is currently able to make good decisions, she’s indicated that she sometimes becomes overwhelmed and has difficulty sorting out the information that has been provided to her by her bank, or the operator of the senior facility where she resides.

Mary feels particularly on overload when communicating with her doctor. Having someone Mary trusts being legally assigned to gather and interpret the information would guide her toward handling life decisions with understanding and grace.

Who knows when we, or someone close, might benefit from this workable and compassionate legislation. It keeps seniors in charge. Above all, it avoids over-reaction to minor lapses, saves costly litigation, unclogs courts and helps families cope.

How fortunate I am that, my skilled and vigilant Trust Attorney waits in the wings and offers her legal expertise as well as my peace of mind. Talk about assistance that helps me navigate the Goverment edicts and legal changes that I then share in these columns!

Special thanks to Scoop Publisher, Larry Hayes, who offers this venue to explore, enjoy and interpret a cross section of subjects of value to seniors. And cheers to my readers for their interest and input always.


Evelyn (Evie) Preston is a financial columnist for A050 and worked as a financial advisor for over 25 years. Reach her at [email protected].