Alzheimer's disease is truly devastating, especially for the loved ones who are caring for their aging family member. While you desperately may want to step in and intervene and make sure your loved one is safe and getting the best care possible, all too often an adult parent will not be willing to cooperate. Rather, they will refuse the help you are trying to provide and insist on continuing to live their life how they want to - not recognizing the danger they are in.
This leaves many wondering what they can even do to help. Without power of attorney - and an aging mom or dad who no longer has the mental capacity to sign such legal documents - what is the next step to even take?
How guardianship can help
In the most basic of terms, guardianship gives someone the legal right to make decisions for another person. This is not a right that is taken lightly, as guardianship can only be granted by a judge. To obtain guardianship, one must be able to prove in court that not only can their loved one no longer care for themselves, but that the person requesting guardianship will be able to make the right decisions on their behalf.
Dealing with guardianship difficulties
The time leading up to obtaining guardianship can certainly be emotionally draining. There is not only the hurt that comes with watching a loved one lose their mental capacity, but there is also the sheer worry over their well-being.
For many families, this is also the time when many bitter arguments arise, as family members may have differing opinions on what should happen next. Should mom be moved to an assisted living facility? Who should she live closest to? What should happen to the home she's lived in for years? Throw into the mix stepchildren -- or a second spouse - and the entire situation can become even harder to navigate.
With obtaining guardianship, it is often the fighting among family members and proving who is capable to act as a guardian that is the hardest. Showing someone is no longer able to care for themselves is normally pretty straightforward, with - a lot of times -- a court psychologist even making this determination before the actual hearing. Rather, it is coming up with the care plan and proving that someone is fit to be a guardian that can be challenging.
How to obtain guardianship
There are a few steps that you will need to take in order to obtain guardianship. Every situation is based on the unique circumstances of the family, but could include:
- Resolving any issues you are having with other family members regarding the care of your parent. You may need an attorney to help with this.
- Creating a care plan. You will need to inform the court on what this plan is, including decisions regarding your parent's funds and medical care.
- In an emergency situation - like if a loved one is being financially exploited - you will need to gain temporary guardianship, giving you time to work out the care details.
While this is no doubt an emotionally trying and draining time, keep in mind that you are not alone. As people age, the situation you are in is one that many have had to go through before. The good news is that there are resources available, both for how to proceed and for taking care of your own well-being as you navigate through this process.