This third post in my series, 19 things to do now once your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, is about being designated as the authorized representative to speak for your loved one.
This is a task I recommend seeing to early on in your loved one’s dementia journey. If you are the caregiver for your loved one I would urge you to have your name added to accounts and files as an authorized representative.
What do I mean by that? Just having your name added on as an additional approved contact person. **** Please note that there should still be an estate plan that has been formalized with an attorney and that my suggestion in no way takes the place of those formal documents.
Getting and having your name on file with companies is something you may want to do when it comes to banks, utilities, financial accounts, insurances, and the list goes on. Just about everything!
One thing to note – I am writing this blog post from the standpoint of the daughter who moved back home to be the caregiver for her mother. Upon my dad’s passing, everything was put in Mom’s name. If your loved one is your spouse, then you may have already taken this step.
I had been taking care of my mom’s bills for a while when I noticed a weird charge on the credit card. If I recall correctly the statement listed it as occurring in Arizona. That was odd because neither of us had been anywhere near Arizona. So I did the usual thing you would do and called customer service to let them know that wasn’t Mom’s charge.
Well, after I identified who I was and why I was calling, I was told they could not talk to me. I explained I was calling for my mom who happened to be at the table next to me. Can you guess what happened next? Yes, they told me I needed to put her on the phone so they could speak with her and get her approval to talk with me. That was easily done, I was able to explain the situation to them and we got the matter taken care of.
Make sure that all the doctor’s offices know who you are and that you are the point of contact and/or authorized representative. I would suggest that you be the one the office calls rather than your loved one because the chance of your loved one remembering the phone call to give you the message is slim to none.
If you have to handle the paperwork for a health reimbursement account you most likely will have to complete a form for them acknowledging that you are the authorized representative and that you are submitting requests on behalf of your loved one. Let other medical insurance companies know as well.
Chances are, if your loved one has financial accounts with brokers or companies, they will need to have something on file establishing you as the contact. Mom had to give authorization for her financial manager to speak with me regarding her accounts.
You may be familiar with this – how the cable companies keep raising rates. You want to be registered with them as an approved contact in case you need to make changes regarding the subsciption or billing questions. I can tell you from experience that if your name is also listed, the chances of getting service switched over to your name will be so much easier.
Include the gas and/or electric companies as there may be times when you want to switch the suppliers in order to get a lower rate. If you want to make changes, they most likely will need to have your name on file.
insurance companies and any others
If there are life insurance policies, you might have them add your name as a point of contact.
Hopefully, maybe, the loved one is no longer driving, but if they are, let the auto insurance company know too and don’t forget the homeowner’s insurance.
See this website for information regarding the VA’s Fiduciary Program.
Check the Social Security Administration’s website for more information regarding the Representative Payment Program.
Go through your files and make a list of people/places to contact so you don’t leave one out.
Then call each one and request the company add your name as an authorized representative to speak on behalf of your loved one’s best interests or if they will just add your name as another point of contact.
one additional note
Something to think about – as I mentioned earlier, I moved back home to live with my mom. I have 3 older brothers who all lived out of town. I’m not sure what we would have done if something had happened to me while I was taking care of Mom. Therefore, you might consider adding a second back up person as an additional contact as well.
For those of you who are caregivers for a spouse with dementia, definitely add your name as an authorized representative and you might even consider adding another person – someone you trust and who is responsible.