Being a guardian isn’t something anyone should take lightly. It’s a lot of legal and moral responsibility to care for someone else’s well-being.
Unfortunately, sometimes a guardianship is the best way to protect a loved one. But how do you know when a family member might be vulnerable, and in need of guardianship?
Know what to look for
It can be difficult to confront the aging process of a loved one. Sometimes, it’s tempting to make excuses for erratic behavior or uncharacteristic mental lapses.
As someone loses faculties, they can start exhibiting characteristics that just aren’t like them. Simple household tasks get difficult, and confusion can make the smallest chores exhausting.
It’s a frustrating situation for all involved, but it’s important to recognize the symptoms of a vulnerable adult. These can include:
- Unusually dirty living space
- An empty fridge
- Missed appointments
- Skipped holidays or gatherings
- Changes in mood (increased irritability or anger)
- Less contact with friends or loved ones
While any one of these can be chalked up to being busy, if you’re noticing them consistently they can mean a loved one is struggling on their own.
Having a talk
Seeing these kinds of signs doesn’t immediately mean you should assume the worst. It does mean you and your family should discuss what the best course of action is. It may be that your loved one needs to move into an assisted living facility, or with family.
However, it also may mean that loved one may need help making large decisions around medical care and financial matters. As a loved one ages, they become more likely targets of predatory financial scams.
If a loved one needs extra help, your family needs to review the options available. While there are options like power of attorney and living trusts, sometimes they do not go far enough in protecting them. Guardianship may feel extreme, but it can be the best way to ensure a loved one is fully protected.
Taking the next step
After determining what is best for your loved one, your next step should be discussing matters with a knowledgeable attorney familiar with guardianships. They can help provide guidance around your specific circumstances and give you options to make the best decision for your family and your loved one.