When someone you care about receives a dementia diagnosis, it can be a challenging journey.
That is especially so when it comes to making crucial decisions on their behalf. Depending on where you are in your journey, there are different ways to establish guardianship of an aging parent who can no longer make medical and financial decisions.
1. Establish power of attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows your elderly parent to designate someone to make financial and healthcare decisions on their behalf. The individual with dementia must still possess the mental capacity to understand what they are signing. POAs can cover a wide range of decisions, from financial matters to healthcare choices.
2. Create a living will
An advance healthcare directive, often referred to as a living will, empowers your elderly parent to specify their healthcare preferences and appoint a healthcare proxy to act on their behalf when they’re no longer able. This document becomes especially important when making end-of-life decisions and medical treatment choices. Engage your parent in these discussions while they can still express their wishes effectively.
3. Guardianship through the court
In cases where dementia has advanced to a stage where your parent can no longer make informed decisions, seeking guardianship through the court system may be necessary. This process entails filing a petition with the relevant court, typically the probate or family court, to appoint a guardian for your loved one. Court-ordered guardianships may be time-consuming and require ongoing oversight by the court.
According to the World Health Organization, 10 million new cases of dementia happen every year. For people with loved ones facing this ordeal, while difficult, planning ahead helps ensure the best quality of life possible.