Independent living is a source of pride for many retired Americans. Having worked for long enough to accrue sufficient retirement benefits alone is an impressive feat. Unfortunately, all of the hard work and planning in the world can’t protect older adults from medical issues or cognitive decline as they age.
Some older adults reach a point where they can no longer handle all of the responsibilities of independent living on their own anymore. When that occurs, their family members may need to step up and help them.
Seeking a guardianship is one way for family members to protect older adults you can no longer handle all of their own affairs. When how do you know when it is time to go to court to request a guardianship for a vulnerable older loved one?
After a serious medical diagnosis
Has your loved one just received a diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease or another medical condition that will affect their health and cognition? When a doctor diagnoses someone that you love with a medical condition that will affect their daily lives, that may be a sign that it is time for you to consider guardianship.
When your loved one has unpaid bills or unattended appointments
Did you stop in to see your parents, only to discover that they had an eviction notice on their front door because they have forgotten to pay rent for months? Are there letters or bills from medical professionals because your loved one did not attend a scheduled appointment?
Difficulty maintaining one’s daily schedule is a common early warning sign of cognitive decline. So, too, is trouble managing household finances. If a previously independent older adult starts forgetting to pay bills or failing to attend scheduled appointments, that could be a warning sign that they can no longer manage all of their own affairs.
When you notice persistent signs of confusion
Especially if your loved one lives in their own home, you may not know if they have missed appointments or failed to pay their bills.
However, what you may notice is that they get confused easily, maybe forgetting why they walked to the kitchen in the few seconds it takes to get there. You might notice if they forget birthdays and anniversaries that they used to always remember or that they forget the rules to a card game in the middle of a match.
Keeping records of concerning behaviors can help you determine when it is time to seek a guardianship and also show a reason for your concerns. Pursuing a guardianship will give you the legal ability to support your loved one.