Law, custom, and necessity require us to make plans for our own death. We make wills to distribute our possessions, to ensure a certain amount of financial security for our relatives when possible, and to make our posthumous wishes known. If we choose to donate our organs for scientific research, we must make a clear and legal declaration of our intent. When a confused, memory-impaired relative can no longer make these decisions for himself, we must act on his behalf.
However, you must be legally empowered to do so. While he is still capable of executing a legal document, obtain a power of attorney. This will be necessary before you can take over his bank accounts or sign his legal papers. Some patients give power of attorney willingly. Those who are more confused, suspicious, or paranoid resist but often can be persuaded by the family lawyer, an insurance agent, a business partner, or other associates whom the impaired person respects and trusts.
The power of attorney also helps you gain access to your patient's assets (such as safety deposit boxes and individual savings accounts). In addition it gives you the authority to determine the disposition of your patient's body after his death.