Here is a link to good work being done to encourage families to obtain a durable powers of attorney for elderly family members. 
Very often nursing home residents begin their residency with all of their mental faculties.  Sadly, these frequently diminish over time.  Once a person lacks the mental capacity to designate an individual to serve as a power of attorney, the process becomes extremely complicated, slow and expensive.  Most importantly, necessary actions and decisions for NH residents often cannot take place without Court intervention. 
The simple solution is to get a power of attorney early on.  It is simple, inexpensive and the smart thing to do.