How much power comes with a durable power of attorney?

5 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

If someone has a durable power of attorney for his wife who has Alzheimer's and is a facility, does that give him the power to make all decisions for her? For example, does that give him the right to keep her in her room all day, not allow her to attend activities or force her to eat or withhold food? How much power does the durable power of attorney give him? And is it the same with someone who has guardianship over someone is a facility? Do they have more power than someone who only has a durable power of attorney?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

It sounds as if what’s at the heart of your question is not so much what power a particular legal document gives over a person in a nursing facility, but concern that the resident is being treated badly—or even abused. It is the duty of the facility, not the person who admitted him or her, to make sure that residents there receive good and fitting care.

If you are a friend or family member who is concerned that the facility’s care is lacking, negligent, or abusive, there are a number of steps to take to deal with the problem.

Contact the facility administrator. Before turning to outside sources for help, try to resolve minor complaints within the nursing facility. Put complaints in writing to the facility administrator and ask for a written response—giving him or her a fair chance to address your concerns.

Contact an ombudsman. Every nursing facility is assigned an ombudsman—a person outside the facility and not associated with the company who is responsible for investigating complaints, reporting allegations of elder abuse, and helping residents solve problems through mediation. Contact the local Ombudsman Program Coordinator for help.

Contact an advocacy organization. A number of local organizations can offer you a seasoned and impartial assessment of whether your particular complaint needs action, along with specific help on how to get it. To find out what’s available in your area, contact your local Area on Aging.

Contact the state regulatory agency. Finally, if you could not resolve your problem through the above sources, consider filing a complaint with the state agency that enforces nursing home laws and regulations. The National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform should be able to provide contact information.

Community Answers

Marthab answered...

Is it true that you can you draw your own power of attorney document in the state of North Carolina, and if so, where can I find a sample of one, and could I just get it motorized to make it legal

Thank you.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Yes, i have one for my mother. Just google power of attorney forms, should come up

Grace5 answered...

What do I need to do in the state of Kentucky to get durable power of attorney over my mother? Also, if I have durable power of attorney can she still access her banking and savings accounts.

Emily m. answered...

Hi Bld,

Thank you for your question. If you want to learn more about Power of Attorney, you can visit our topic center here:

You can also post your question in our Ask & Answer section, located here:

Take care, Emily | Community Manager