Professor Richard Kaplan recently spoke with the Illinois News Bureau about the effects the COVID-19 pandemic will have on older adults in the U.S. An excerpt from the interview follows:
Almost every aspect of elder law is implicated in the COVID-19 pandemic. What are some of the important issues that people should consider?
All demographics of people – even those who normally wouldn’t think of such things, or doubt they’re at risk – need to start thinking seriously about end-of-life issues. Either for their own sake, or for the sake of a family member.
Parents of young children, for example, may want to write a will so they can name who should be appointed guardian for their children. The parents in this age group may not have huge exposure to the health and mortality risks associated with COVID-19, but their risk is not zero.
Another end-of-life issue related to COVID-19 pertains to advance health care directives. Like wills, such directives aren’t exclusively for older people. What happens to people who are put on a ventilator and can’t speak for themselves – or if they're in an isolation ward, where family isn’t allowed to visit? This is not just about COVID-19 hospitalization, but also about what their end-of-life wishes might be in the event of other catastrophic illnesses.
The tricky thing about a medical directive is that you must prepare it before you need to use it, and nobody wants to think about their own incapacitation in advance.
Funeral arrangements are another issue that deserves some thought, and people typically avoid having that conversation until they absolutely have to. It might be worth broaching the subject with family members, if only to spare the survivors from having to deal with this question at a time of great grief. Funerals can represent a significant financial decision that is usually made under incredible time pressure and emotional strain.
Read the full article at news.illinois.edu.