Natalie cares for her dad, Gareth, who has Parkinson’s dementia. Natalie and her sister, Emma, now have power of attorney for both Gareth’s finances and health and welfare.
Dad can get very confused, or doesn’t understand concepts, like his finances. Sometimes he will spend compulsively - maybe £10 here and £10 there, but those individual payments can quickly mount up.
We also found he’d been paying for 2 roadside recovery accounts, and that he’d let certain insurances lapse, which he’d previously been on top of.
Dad can sound coherent on the phone and because he’s only 61, people assume he’s OK. But he would often struggle to follow conversations with his healthcare team for example, so pass the phone over to me or Emma. They weren’t able to share anything with us though, because of patient confidentiality and because we didn’t have power of attorney.
...once the paperwork was finalised, it felt like a massive weight had been lifted.
Making the application
Emma and I suggested to Dad that he arrange a power of attorney while he was still deemed to have mental capacity, as we don’t know how his condition may progress or what support he may need over time. It was very important to us though, that he understood we would always act in his best interests.
Dad has always been very independent - he has lived alone for 30 years and was always self-employed - so we also wanted to enable him to keep his independence as much as possible.
It was a balancing act then, but once the paperwork was finalised, it felt like a massive weight had been lifted.
If Dad gets sent a circular letter from the bank that has been signed by the Chief Executive, he doesn’t understand that person hasn’t written to him personally...Now I get his post, I can sort through the letters and only share those he needs to see.
I now have a bank card for Dad’s account, which means I can do Dad’s shopping without having to ask him to transfer me the money afterwards as that would often confuse him.
Dad can also get very paranoid so sets very complicated passwords for his online account, which he then forgets and often gets locked out. Now I have my own log-in for his online banking, so one of us always has access to the accounts, and I can keep an eye on things.
Having power of attorney also means I can receive Dad’s post, which has been helpful. If he gets sent a circular letter from the bank that has been signed by the Chief Executive, he doesn’t understand that person hasn’t written to him personally. He often believes the letter needs a response and can get very irritable if we try and persuade him otherwise. Now I get his post, I can sort through the letters and only share those he needs to see.
It’s been a massive journey trying to work out how much we tell Dad about certain situations. Recently, there was an issue with his medication. As Dad’s attorney though, I was able to sort it out with his GP and the pharmacy and tell Dad later once it was resolved.
He can lose trust in people, so the situation could have quickly escalated if Dad had spotted the mistake.
It also helps Emma and I, especially if we are nervous about bringing up certain things in front of Dad. For example, he has started to lose boundaries and may start conversations in front of us that aren’t appropriate. Now we can openly discuss these difficult symptoms with his healthcare team and it’s less stressful for all of us.
Emma and I were very nervous about being the driving force to set this all up. We worried it would be seen negatively and as a way of us trying to control Dad. This is absolutely not why we’ve done this...
The system isn’t perfect - different companies can decide how they want to administer the power of attorney. Some just want a copy of the first page, some want a copy of the whole 40-page document and some want the 40-page document with each page signed and dated by Dad. I wish we’d been prepared for this as we could have planned better.
Being awarded power of attorney though has given us huge peace of mind. Emma and I were very nervous about being the driving force to set this all up. We worried it would be seen negatively and as a way of us trying to control Dad. This is absolutely not why we’ve done this - there are no personal financial gains for us.
But ultimately getting power of attorney offers Emma and I reassurance and takes the pressure off Dad. I’m 100% happy we did this for us all.