The idea of a guardianship makes many people feel uneasy. Plenty of concerned and loving adult children of aging parents delay seeking a likely necessary guardianship because they don’t want to limit their parents’ independence or damage their relationship.
It is easy to focus on the negative aspects of a guardianship, including the perceived loss of autonomy and the potential for abuse. However, a guardianship can be an important form of protection for an older adult not capable of handling their own financial or medical decisions.
If you worry about what your siblings or parents think about your decision to pursue a guardianship, familiarizing yourself with three of the most common reason that people seek guardianships can help convince you and others that the step is necessary.
- Cognitive issues can lead to financial problems
When you don’t have a regular workweek or other outside obligations to structure your daily routine, time can start to pass in a monotonous blur. Your parents may have always been financially responsible, but they could start forgetting that they have bills due on certain days.
If your parents don’t pay their credit card balance or their mortgage, they could find themselves facing lawsuits or even foreclosure. A guardian takes on financial responsibility so that older adults aren’t at risk of making major financial mistakes.
- Older adults are vulnerable to abuse
A guardianship gives older adults an extra layer of oversight and protection. Anyone from your siblings to a caregiver who cleans house for your parents might try to manipulate them for their own gain. Elder abuse is a serious issue, and guardians will be in a position not only to stop financial manipulation but to also make decisions that can limit the access of abusive or manipulative people to older adults.
- Your parents may not make medical decisions in their own best interests
Both reticence to undergo more procedures and lack of familiarity with modern medical options might lead your parents to decline health care that would increase their lifespan or quality of life.
If they seem to make decisions based not on rational thought, having medical authority might make it easier for you to convince them that such care is necessary. You could also potentially make decisions on their behalf if they refuse to act when care is crucial.
No one wants to diminish the autonomy or independence of their loved ones, but sometimes certain limitations are necessary in order to protect the safety and finances of aging Americans. Seeking a guardianship could go a long way toward helping your parents safely enjoy their golden years.