I recently met with a family member who became involved in the care of his cousin because she is the only remaining family member. She and her cousin have not spoken in years and she is not inclined to accept long term responsibility for her cousin. I admire her ability to see the situation and know what she can and cannot do. These situations are extremely difficult and become more so when a family member feels they have no option but to be the responsible party for a person they hardly know. Depending on many factors, including resources, an independent person may be appointed financial and medical power of attorney for the cousin. If it’s gone beyond this point and the cousin is mentally unable to understand what is best then guardianship and conservatorship are the next courses of action. Know that if you find yourself in a similar situation there are options. And if you’ve lived alone for many years, don’t have any close family members or friends and want to make sure that you’re taken care of if this ever occurs, make your plans now and avoid others having to do this for you later. Think about it, do you know someone, who if asked, would gladly accept the responsibility to make decisions about your financial and healthcare needs for the remainder of your life and that you trust explicitly? Not an easy question or an easy task.

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