How to care for ageing relatives

When it comes to ageing relatives, health care is usually top of mind. But did you know that sorting out some legal paperwork could make your life easier for any health care issues that arise?

Sorting out the legal paperwork  

We’re not legal experts. That’s where Carer Gateway from the Australian Government comes in. Carer Gateway says that there are three things to consider getting when caring for an ageing relative:  

  1. An advance care plan
  2. A guardian or power of attorney 
  3. A will (if they don’t already have one)  

Advance care plans  

Ask the person you are caring for about the care and health services they want in the future. That’s what advance care planning is. Part of this process is in the next step in a guardian or power of attorney and the other part is a written document of what the ageing relative would like called an Advance Care Directive (AKA living will). This great resource explains advance care directives in more detail and links to the laws in your state or territory.  

The important differences between a guardian and a power of attorney  

Health care decisions require a guardian but it’s also useful to review what a power of attorney is. 

Guardians can make decisions about:  

  • medical and dental treatment  
  • general health care  
  • living arrangements  
  • support services  

Powers of attorneys make decisions about:  

  • legal matters  
  • financial matters  

To sum up, for holistic care of a relative, you may choose to be both a guardian and have a power of attorney for someone you’re caring for. Equally, you may decide to appoint different people to the two roles (not everyone wants to take everything on their own, after all).   

Each state and territory has its own laws on guardians and power of attorney. Helpfully, if you click on the links in the previous sentence you can select where you live to get your local laws and help.  


Few things are more sensitive than a will and it’s no surprise most people write theirs pretty carefully as they can leave a nasty legacy if they lack tact.   

Wills cover:  

  • who inherits assets  
  • the funeral they want  
  • who acts as the executor of the will – the person who oversees the wishes of the will  

Carer Gateway says that you should get legal help to write a will. This means that if you do buy a will kit, it’s a good idea to get a solicitor to check it.   

Another good tip is for a solicitor to keep a copy of will (in case of fire or flood damage to a property). It’s also handy for the will’s executor to know where the will is kept.  

For more info on wills, visit moneysmart.  

Bonus resource 

Thankfully, there is one trusted guide that you can follow to make sure you’re on top of all. It’s called Carer Gateway and they have 10 tips to help you look after an elderly person.  


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