Healthy Living Magazine


Personal choice and self-determination are highly important elements to us as human beings. But have you ever thought who would make decisions on your behalf
should you become unable to do so?

Your right to decide – about your own care, where you want to live, what you want to eat, what you want to wear, when you want to bathe, who you want to look after you, where to spend your money – these are probably the most important decisions that allow us to feel in control of our own life and our own destiny.

These are the decisions most people take for granted, the decisions we think we will always be able to make for ourselves. But what if one day you can’t? What if either a long illness or a sudden injury robs you of your decision-making ability? Who will make these decisions for you? Have you given this thought? Have you discussed it with someone else? Have you asked someone to make decisions for you should you become unable to do so? Have you done so in writing? Have you discussed your wishes in the event that you become incapable?

While this is not a topic anyone likes to address, it is very important to raise and discuss this with people you care about while you are capable, regardless of age or situation, because none of us knows what tomorrow will bring.

Planning for what you would like to happen, in the event that you need someone else to make decisions for you in the future, is called Advance Care Planning, and the legal documents that support this are a Power of Attorney for Personal Care and a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property. Every person over 18 should have both.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal document that appoints one or more people the right to make decisions on your behalf that specifically relate to your care or treatment if you are deemed incapable of making those decisions for yourself. Your ‘attorney’ should be the person or persons you trust as they are your ‘substitute decision maker(s)’. They do not need to be a lawyer or anyone with a legal background, but should be someone who knows you and what you would want in most situations. While they may not share your values and beliefs, they should understand them and be willing and able to uphold them, in the event that they are asked to make a decision on your behalf.

It would be best if you have conversations with that person (or if there was more than one person that you wanted to act in conjunction, persons) about your wishes in the event that you require care or medical intervention in the future.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is NOT the same as a ‘living will’. A living will is NOT a legal document nor is it a substitute for one. It can be composed as a letter or any other format that can be a part of, or attached to, your Power of Attorney for Personal Care indicating your wishes about treatment and personal care. It is not a necessary document though some find it a good way to detail their wishes to their loved ones to ensure that what they want is known. It may provide more assurance that one’s wishes are known and will be followed, rather than simply discussing things.

A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property is a legal document that allows at least one person to act on your behalf if you become incapable of managing your financial affairs. This person can be, but does not have to be, the same person as your substitute decision maker. You should trust that the person or persons can properly manage your financial affairs as they will have full authority to manage your money and property.

You do not need a lawyer to draft your Powers of Attorney, though it would be wise to consult one and have him or her prepare the necessary documents. There are some basic components all Powers of Attorney must include in order to be valid, so if you choose not to have a lawyer create one for you, you may download a basic form from the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee at This form can then be completed on your own.
Once you have completed your Powers of Attorney, keep the originals in a safe place and make sure that you have at least one copy that is easily accessible. Ensure those you have asked to be your attorney(s) are aware of their potential responsibilities and tell them of the whereabouts of the original documents.

For more information regarding this topic, you can download A Guide to Advance Care Planning from the website of the Ontario Seniors Secretariat at You can also download detailed information, as well as questions and answers on Powers of Attorney from the website for Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee at You may also contact a lawyer in your community who is familiar with drafting Wills and Powers of Attorney, and who can answer any questions you might have.

Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW is a former acute care hospital social worker and the author of the “Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living and Long-Term Care™” now in its 15th edition. She also administers the affiliated national website and lectures on Eldercare issues in various venues. For further information on this and other topics related to seniors and relocation visit

34 thoughts on “Who decides when you can’t?

  1. Fantastic beat ! I would like to apprentice even as you amend your web site, how could i subscribe for a weblog web site? The account aided me a applicable deal. I were a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered shiny transparent idea

  2. Hello, all the time i used to check website posts here early in the break of day, for the reason that i
    like to find out more and more.

  3. You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be actually one thing which I feel I’d never understand. It kind of feels too complex and extremely vast for me. I am taking a look forward for your subsequent publish, I will attempt to get the hang of it!

  4. Pretty part of content. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact loved account your blog
    posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing on your feeds or even I fulfillment you get admission to constantly fast.

  5. naturally like your web-site but you have to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth nevertheless I’ll surely come back again.

  6. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your weblog.
    You have some really great posts and I believe I would be a good asset.

    If you ever want to take some of the load off,
    I’d really like to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link
    back to mine. Please blast me an email if interested. Regards!

  7. I was just looking for this info for a while. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your site. I wonder what’s the lack of Google strategy that don’t rank this kind of informative sites in top of the list. Normally the top websites are full of garbage.

  8. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed
    reading it, you happen to be a great author. I
    will always bookmark your blog and may come back in the future.
    I want to encourage yourself to continue your great job, have a nice weekend!

  9. Hi there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the great work!

  10. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

  11. Hello there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

  12. Whoa! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

  13. I just want to say I’m new to blogs and seriously savored this website. Likely I’m likely to bookmark your website . You really come with good writings. Thank you for revealing your webpage.

  14. I just want to mention I am new to blogging and site-building and definitely enjoyed your web-site. Almost certainly I’m likely to bookmark your site . You certainly come with exceptional article content. Appreciate it for revealing your website page.

  15. I discovered your blog site on google as well as check a few of your early articles. Remain to maintain the great operate. I just added up your RSS feed to my MSN Information Visitor. Seeking forward to learning more from you later on!?

  16. Hey. Cool article. There’s a problem with your site in chrome, and you may want to check this… The browser is the market leader and a huge component of other people will omit your wonderful writing because of this problem.

  17. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you’ve put in writing this site. I am hoping the same high-grade site post from you in the upcoming also. In fact your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own web site now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a great example of it.

  18. There are some interesting points in time in this short article however I don?t understand if I see all of them facility to heart. There is some credibility however I will take hold opinion till I explore it additionally. Great short article, many thanks and also we desire much more! Included in FeedBurner as well

  19. Thank you for some other wonderful article. The place else may just anybody get that kind of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am on the search for such info.

  20. Hi! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  21. Hi there, simply changed into alert to your blog through Google, and located that it’s truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate when you continue this in future. Numerous folks shall be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  22. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100 certain. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Kudos

  23. This is actually exciting, You’re an immensely seasoned writer. I’ve enrolled with your feed and additionally look forward to enjoying the dazzling write-ups. At the same time, I’ve got shared your web sites inside our internet sites.

  24. I think this site holds some real fantastic information for everyone :D. “Anybody who watches three games of football in a row should be declared brain dead.” by Erma Bombeck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.