Age Scotland has launched a national campaign to urge people to plan ahead and make a Power of Attorney.
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document which gives someone else the authority to make specific decisions about your life – including issues around finances, care and property – if you were to need help or lose the ability to make these decisions for yourself.
Writing a POA is one of the most important choices people can make in their lives. It not only allows you to choose who you want to make decisions on your behalf, should you lose the ability to do so – for example because of an accident or illness – but it also gives you the opportunity to discuss with those around you what you would want to happen in certain circumstances.
Yet Age Scotland says too many people don’t think to make one as they assume that, if they were to lose the capacity to make decisions for themselves, family members would automatically be able to step in.
This is simply not true.
This can lead to issues such as families being unable to access shared finances to pay bills, or care decisions being delayed which can result in people having to stay in hospital for longer than necessary.
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “Getting a Power of Attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make and it’s one you shouldn’t keep putting off until later, as many people do.
“It’s not nice to imagine something happening which would mean you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself. But planning in case something were to happen, won’t make it happen. It just means that if it were to, both you and those close to you have the peace of mind that you have had the chance to talk about and prepare for what you personally wanted to happen.”
Around 55,000 new POAs are registered in Scotland according to the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland).
Age Scotland’s campaign will be focused on older people across Scotland, and is funded by the Scottish Government.
Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing, said: “There may come a time when you find making decisions about the important things in life, such as your medical treatment, finances or care, increasingly difficult.
“It is important that have someone you can trust to carry out these decisions on your behalf and planning now will ensure that in the future your choices can be fully respected. Not only does it make it easier for your family, but for professionals tasked with looking after your health and social care – allowing them to ensure you can be cared for in line with your wishes.”
The campaign has also received funding from Solicitors for Older People Scotland.
As part of the campaign, Age Scotland is providing talks and workshops on Power of Attorney to older people’s community groups, at local and national events and to professional networks across Scotland over the coming months. If you would like to find out more or ask about having a presentation in your area, contact Age Scotland on 0845 833 0200.
A guide to Power of Attorney in Scotland, produced by Age Scotland, is available to download from www.agescotland.org.uk/poa
For a free hard copy, and if you have any questions, call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90.