For adult children, understanding that their parents may no longer be able to care for themselves can be quite a shift in their thinking. For as long as they can remember, their parents have been these pillars of independence. They raised them when they were children, and they certainly always seemed like they could take care of themselves. They helped the adult children grow up and learn how to navigate the world, and it's strange to see their abilities decline to the point that they may now need the assistance they once provided.
However, for many families, this is a reality. A disorder like Alzheimer's Disease can make it so that even physically healthy parents cannot take care of themselves. A stroke or a similar issue can limit physical abilities so that parents who still have a firm mental grasp on the world need daily assistance with even simple tasks. For some parents, both these physical and mental issues collide and they need care on both fronts. Every situation is unique.
For children, getting their heads around these inherent changes is only the first step. They also need to know what type of care their parents need, and that may start with a guardianship.
For some guardians -- often, adult children who now have the legal right to make decisions for their own parents -- things begin with daily care obligations. They have to put the elderly individuals' interests first. This could mean:
- Helping them bathe
- Cooking and cleaning
- Running errands
- Providing transportation
- Doing upkeep on the home
- Taking them to doctors' appointments
The general idea is that the elderly person cannot do all the things they used to do, so the guardian takes on that role, just a parent would for a young child.
The financial side
Often, guardianships revolve around the financial side of things. The elderly person may no longer be able to:
- Manage their money
- Pay their taxes
- Pay medical bills
- Buy the things they need
- Create an estate plan
- Stick to a budget
- Pay the mortgage
- Pay months bills
This is just a small sampling of potential financial obligations. Traditionally, only an individual has the right to access their own bank accounts, move their money around and take other financial steps. The benefit of a guardianship is that the guardian can get this legal right so that they can assist with these needs and make sure the person doesn't run into serious financial complications.
Getting a guardianship
You can see how helpful a guardianship is, but the process to set one up can be complex. Make sure you are well aware of the legal steps you need to take.