A reader has asked an important question about her right to help determine her mother’s health care. A lot of adult children face this same situation, so we sought the advice of Barbara Moss, an attorney who specializes in elder law.
Q: I am an adult daughter whose mother lives in an assisted living community. My sister has Power of Attorney, but I want to be involved in my mother's care. Because I don’t have Power of Attorney does that mean I can't be involved in my mother's care or ask personal questions regarding my mother's health?
A: Your mom has chosen your sister to make decisions about her health care. But that does not, of course, stop you from speaking with your mom and sister.
As far as speaking with your mom's health care providers, you will need to ask your mom to sign a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) release before they can legally discuss your mother's health with you.
This form, when signed by your mother, will let you speak with any health care provider.
However, I have found that physicians often want to speak with only one family member to avoid having to communicate the same information over and over. Perhaps you can arrange with your mother and sister to be present during those discussions.
Good luck! I see many examples of devoted children trying to take care of their parents in my practice.