Guardianship for an individual with Alzheimer’s is imperative when the patient has reached the point of mental incapacitation. People living with Alzheimer’s will reach the stage wherein they lose their memory and cognitive skills, which are vital for carrying normal day-to-day interactions. Their ability to make decisions regarding their health care, living situation, money, and other personal matters can be severely affected.
It can pose problems for the patients because it puts them in serious physical and financial risks. They can also become vulnerable to physical and financial abuse. At this point, guardianship can be an essential tool to safeguard the patient’s well-being.
What is Guardianship?
Guardianship is a court process of appointing a person, the “guardian”, to supervise a disabled person’s property and to manage his care and living set-up. The court-appointed guardian will have the legal authority to make personal, financial, and medical decisions on behalf of the disabled person, or ward.
A guardianship lawyer can help with this process, especially since state laws differ when it comes to guardianship processes. The guardianship lawyer will guide you through the legal procedure of guardianship and helps you get approved by the court.
The process of guardianship is often lengthy and can get quite tedious. To gain guardianship for your parent with Alzheimer’s disease, your guardianship lawyer will need some information to establish the need for it. The information should help the court understand why your parent’s situation necessitates a guardianship. It should also clearly show why you are the best person to be your parent’s legal guardian.
When is Guardianship Needed?
Because an Alzheimer’s patient cannot make intelligent decisions for himself, a trusted guardian must be appointed to protect the patient’s interest. A court may decide if a guardianship is warranted based on factors:
- When a person (in this case, a parent with Alzheimer’s) lost his legal capacity to make crucial decisions for himself;
- When a person, in some cases, agree that he might benefit from having a guardian to help manage the situation;
- When a person living with Alzheimer’s is no longer capable of legally signing a power of attorney forms because of his mental state;
- When the ability to carry out basic daily routines like eating, maintaining hygiene, taking the necessary medications, and the likes, are lost.
You can easily gain guardianship for your parent with Alzheimer’s by meeting the court’s basic requirements for guardianship. Having a guardianship lawyer is a significant advantage as he can help make these proceedings a lot easier for you.
Usually, the court’s primary choice for guardianship is a close family member of the ward. In this case, the spouse or domestic partner or the adult child is the more likely choice. Secondary choices include close relatives or friends. In some cases, when a spouse, adult child, close relatives, or friends are not available for guardianship, the court will appoint a qualified attorney to handle the guardianship part.
You can petition for guardianship of your parent by:
- Making a petition to the court and establishing the fact that your parent suffering from Alzheimer’s has lost his mental capacity to function normally;
- Obtaining the Notice of Hearing from the court;
- Confirming that the ward receives the Notice of Hearing and the copy of petition documents filed in court;
- Come on the appointed date of hearing (this usually takes place in an informal setting).
During the hearing, you must be able to convince the judge why you should get the guardianship of your parent with Alzheimer’s. You may choose to go through the whole process without a guardianship lawyer, but having one can be a great advantage.
Why Guardianship Proceedings Can Get Problematic
As a guardian, your core responsibilities include managing the ward’s living conditions, maintenance, and care. You are also expected to make financial and medical decisions, and to see that the ward gets the necessary medical care. You are also required to submit updates about the ward’s condition to the court.
But sometimes, guardianship can be problematic for various reasons:
- The ward may sometimes feel like he has lost his freedom to make decisions for himself;
- The ward may feel forced to live in a new living environment that he may find uncomfortable;
- The ward may feel hurt and may become resentful because he is declared physically and mentally incompetent;
- The ward’s personal and financial situations become a public record;
- Attorney’s and doctor’s fees and other fees can get costly, all at the expense of the ward;
- The ward is losing his life savings due to the mishandling of his finances.
As long as the right and trusted person who truly cares for the ward’s best interest is given guardianship, things will be less problematic. With the right legal guidance of a guardianship lawyer, problems like these can be foreseen and avoided. Guardianship should be beneficial to everyone concerned, but most notably, to the ward.
Guardianship of a parent with Alzheimer’s, especially in an advanced stage, may need a little more involvement to ensure proper care. But in these busy times, it can be a challenge. You might want to opt for the service of a caretaker to assist you in caring for your parents. He may also benefit from memory care services to lessen the impact of Alzheimer’s so he may still be able to enjoy his life.