Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and other health conditions can lead to dementia in the elderly. When signs of dementia start to show, it is important to act quickly in order to secure the safety and insecurity of both your loved one and their assets. If your parent or loved one is suffering from a dementia-causing illness, establishing guardianship can protect their rights and assets before signs of dementia begin to become more apparent.
What is Guardianship?
Guardianship is a protective classification that allows the guardian to make important financial, healthcare, and estate-related decisions for an incapacitated or otherwise disabled individual. Guardianship laws are designed by the state legislature to provide flexibility in meeting the needs of incapacitated adults. However, not all incapacitated adults need assistance in meeting all their needs. Some only need assistance with certain tasks, such as property management, paying bills, or making medical decisions.
Guardianship with Dementia
Because dementia deals with both physical and cognitive limitations, the elderly individual will likely need more guardianship assistance as time goes on. However, it is important to ensure that the paperwork for guardianship is taken care of as soon as possible. Your elderly loved one’s estate attorney can help you draft up the proper documentation. The reason you have to act quickly is that you want your loved one to be able to be cognizant of their actions at the time of signing. As their dementia symptoms continue to develop, it may be harder to argue that they were of sound mind at the time of signing.
If your loved one is already suffering from the later stages of dementia, you may be able to secure guardianship via a judge. However, this process can be lengthy, and your loved one may not get the medical, financial, or managerial assistance they require until it is properly secured.
Guardianship and Power of Attorney
During the early stages of dementia, your loved one should still be able to work with you to transfer the power of attorney and guardianship. As long as dementia is minor or nonexistent, a person in the beginning stages of a dementia-causing illness can still be seen as mentally competent in the eyes of the law. In the event that your loved one’s dementia has taken its toll before you can create a power of attorney, you can still file for guardianship through the courts, as mentioned above. Overall, your loved one’s estate attorney will be best equipped to assist you in securing guardianship rights.
Your Loved One’s Will
Your loved one should have a written Will already. However, if they do not by the time dementia becomes apparent, their estate could be at risk. It is important for anyone drafting a Will to do so as soon as possible. Wills created or changed after dementia has become prominent could be dismissed in a court of law. For a person with dementia to make changes to a Will afterward, they will need to have a guardian or someone with power of attorney assist them. If possible, try to take inventory of all assets, estates, insurance policies, deeds, bank accounts, and tax forms before dementia takes effect.
The mental ability to make a will is called “Testamentary Capacity.” Wills of people with dementia are often challenged because the testator of the Will could have lacked the testamentary capacity to make sound decisions. Testamentary Capacity requires the individual to be aware of the value of their estate, and of their next of kin. They must also be able to demonstrate reasonable judgment in their decisions.
Unfortunately, Testamentary Capacity often comes up in Probate Court, after the individual has passed away. Because of this, proving that they were mentally sound at the time can prove difficult. Especially if they had a documented history of dementia before that.
Daily Care for Seniors with Dementia
When your family member begins to show signs of dementia, their daily life can become a lot more difficult; even for simple tasks. If everyday tasks become too difficult for your loved one, consider options for additional care; such as a home health aide.
A home health aide from SafeHarbor Healthcare Services can assist your loved one in their daily life. This can include bathing, meal preparation, doctor’s visits, and more. Our trained and certified home health aides know how to safely and ethically work with individuals with cognitive disabilities such as dementia to help ensure that they are getting proper treatment at home.
Dementia and Living at Home
Changes in the scenery, such as moving to a nursing home or other care facility, can be extremely disorienting and even scary for individuals with dementia. Keeping your elderly loved one safe and at home is a good way to help ensure they are more comfortable during this difficult time.
Safe Harbor Healthcare Services does not provide medical, healthcare, or financial advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
Safe Harbor Healthcare Services has been providing excellent home care on Staten Island since 1967. Our services help the elderly and disabled live safely and independently; while giving their families the peace of mind they need. For more information contact us by clicking here, or by calling (718)-979-6900.