How can I attain medical power of attorney only?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 27, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

How does one go about getting MEDICAL POA only??? My partner's parents are having difficulty with keeping Dr appointments and following care instructions ie after surgery restrictions/limitations and medications... Is it possible to have a MEDICAL POA only? So that he can go with them to appointments and get medical information and care instructions. Not to sound derogatory but they don't always understand when the Dr gives them directions. They get half of what the Dr actually says and when at an appointment they don't always give the Dr all the symptoms they are experiencing. We just want to make sure that everything that needs to be done for them is being done!

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's quite possible to get a medical power of attorney and tailor it as you suggested so that an agent will become responsible for overseeing medical appointments. The fastest way may be to go to the nearest hospital and ask the patient representative there for a copy of your state's form. You may have to add specifics spelling out the agent's duties as far as monitoring and care, as some, but not all forms address this.

However, the sticking point may be your partner's parents"”as they are the ones who will have to agree to the terms and conditions expressed in the POA and to complete and sign the document.

If they balk at this, you may need to find another way around it. One approach may be for your partner to contact the doctors directly and explain the concerns. There are some doctors who will refuse to speak openly with anyone other than their patients, claiming that would violate their patients' rights to privacy. The more enlightened professionals who are dealing with older patients, particularly geriatricians, will often understand that there is a need to act more holistically and to involve others in a complete plan of care.

Either way, your partner may be able to appeal to the doc's sensibilities ad sensitivities by emphasizing the need for the parents to accurately follow his or her medical advice"”and particularly to take medications as directed. Some doctors also have a formal or informal procedure for appointing a chaperone of sorts, generally called a medical advocate, so your partner make also want to ask about this possibility.

Finally, what looks like confusion or laxness on the parents' parts may simply be a lack of organization or a difference in styles. If the parents are cogent and agreeable, it may be useful for your partner to have an honest agreement about the concerns for their medical care"”and suggest that they all work together to find some simple solutions to deal with them, such as a checklist of questions to bring to a medical appointment that they could complete and have reviewed by the doctor"”and one of the many types of medication dispensing devices that can be set up to dole out dosages and reminders.