The idea behind guardianship can be divisive in some circles. There are people, especially those who are older or who struggle with significant health issues, that think of guardianships as unnecessary or even a way for the state, medical institutions or supportive family members to dehumanize them.
It certainly seems that the only time guardianships or conservatorships make the mainstream news is when someone in a position of authority has abused that role to the detriment of the exact person they should have protected.
Despite how the media hyper-fixates on situations where someone endures abuse or is unnecessarily subject to a guardianship they don’t actually require, overall guardianships serve a positive role in society and can provide crucial protection to people who are vulnerable socially, financially and legally.
How guardianship helps
It can be very difficult to acknowledge that a loved one is no longer managing their own affairs properly or capable of running their own household. You may have watched them slowly start to struggle with keeping groceries in their refrigerator or paying their bills on time, only to receive a rude wake-up call when something serious happens, like they wander into someone else’s home or receive an eviction notice because of months of unpaid rent.
A guardian in Colorado occupies the same sort of legal role that a parent fulfills for those under the age of 18. Guardians have a fiduciary duty to the person in their care and must act in their best interests. They need to oversee their daily lives and provide for their basic requirements, like shelter, nutrition and medical care. A guardian helps guarantee that someone receives the care they need, especially when they are unable to provide for themselves.
Seeking a guardianship can help you intervene when your loved one has started to make dangerous decisions, like insisting on driving themselves to church despite the early morning signs of dementia. You will then be in a position to make good choices on their behalf and to provide them with the daily support that they require to meet their own needs.
If your loved one has resources to their name, you may have to consider how well they have managed their assets and whether they can continue doing so effectively. Conservatorship gives someone authority over another individual’s financial resources, which can be equally important if they have had a hard time paying their bills as they should.
Recognizing adult guardianship as a tool that can help your vulnerable, aging loved one can help you support someone you love in their golden years.