Guardianship can seem like a punishment to an older adult still desiring independence, but that isn’t an accurate perception of guardianship. Guardianship is actually a powerful tool that helps concerned family members or even strangers step up and help protect someone who isn’t capable of taking care of themselves.
If you want to seek a guardianship over your aging loved one, they might resent your suggestion and rail against it. However, securing a guardianship now can help protect your loved one from three horrifying potential outcomes.
- Your loved one could lose their property or die due to lack of help
Independent living isn’t always possible for older adults, especially those experiencing cognitive decline. Someone experiencing confusion or struggling with memory issues may not pay their bills on time and could have their utilities shut off, their car repossessed or the home that they live in foreclosed on by the bank. They could also rack up a huge amount of debt if they have credit cards that they don’t properly manage.
As if that weren’t frightening enough, your loved one could also possibly make bad decisions about their own care. They might forget to blow out a candle and start a house fire. They could refuse to go to a doctor because they don’t recognize their own progressing symptoms and die of a treatable illness. A guardian can handle financial transactions, manage the household and ensure that someone gets good medical care.
- Loneliness is a nightmare for older adults
Living independently often means contending with constant loneliness. Research has shown that those without good social support have worse health outcomes than others in similar medical conditions. In fact, loneliness in older adults might drastically increase their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- If you don’t seek a guardianship, someone outside the family could
Many guardianships are the results of concerned family members taking action, but some guardianships are sought by individuals hoping to make a profit by managing the household of older adults.
If someone outside of your family seeks a guardianship, they can place your loved one in the facility without your input and start using their assets, possibly diminishing them before your family has an opportunity to ask the courts to change the guardian to someone from your family.
Seeking a guardianship now helps give you peace of mind and protect your loved one from the dangers of living alone, the risks associated with loneliness and the possibility of an outsider seeking a guardianship.