Watching as a parent’s mental or physical health declines is never easy, and neither are the decisions you must make as that parent’s condition worsens. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are progressive, meaning they get worse over time, so when you start seeing signs of mental incapacitation, it may benefit you to act quickly in establishing a guardianship.
It is not always easy to recognize when a loved one needs more help than you or other caregivers currently provide. You may also face emotional barriers in accepting that your mother or father’s condition is not going to improve. However, there are several things to watch out for that might indicate it is time to take action.
When medical issues arise
Depending on your parent’s mental capacity, he or she may still be able to consent to certain medical treatments well into old age. In other situations, you may need to have a guardianship in place to protect your parent’s medical interests.
If your mother or father is unable to understand a physician’s recommendations about treatment, he or she may not legally consent to it. Such circumstances may warrant appointing someone a guardian. Similarly, if your parent is having a psychotic episode, you may need to have a legal guardian’s consent before he or she can take antipsychotic drugs.
When he or she refuses to enter a nursing home
Many older adults want to remain independent in their own homes as long as possible. Thus, many aging parents resist entering nursing homes. If your parent refuses to move to a nursing home or assisted living facility but you believe doing so to be the most sensible option, you may need a guardianship to provide the care he or she needs.
You may be able to delay a guardianship appointment by making sure your parents maintain current health care directives and powers of attorney. However, these are some circumstances under which guardianship may be unavoidable.