Does your parent’s medical diagnosis mean they need a guardian?

Published By | Jul 26, 2022 | Elder Law |

Guardianship is a way for family members to protect someone who cannot act in their own best interests. As people grow older, they may struggle to take care of themselves as they once did and may require more support than when they were younger.

Sometimes, older adults lose the ability to independently maintain their own household. Sometimes, it will be years of decline that lead family members to take action. Other times, a diagnosis with a specific medical condition can be a red flag that your family needs to intervene to protect a vulnerable older loved one.

If your loved one has recently received a diagnosis of a condition associated with dementia, they may require your support in the years to come.

What medical issues may result in dementia?

There are numerous medical issues that can cause dementia. Some of the conditions with the strongest association with dementia are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Mixed dementia
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Any of these conditions will likely be permanent, if not progressive. Although your loved one may not need support immediately at the time of their diagnosis, they will likely reach the point where they need support.

There are a handful of conditions that can cause dementia but which may eventually respond to treatment. These conditions include brain tumors, severe infections, endocrine disruptions, nutritional deficiencies and even subdural hematomas caused by someone falling.

A diagnosis isn’t enough on its own

Just because your loved one recently got an unexpectedly negative diagnosis from their doctor does not mean that they immediately require a guardianship or that you can secure one. It could be years before the most serious symptoms present in a specific patient.

Typically, you will need to show that your loved one has already displayed impaired decision-making or failed to properly manage their own life, possibly by missing appointments or payments, to convince the courts that guardianship is necessary. Evaluating the situation to see if it may be time to seek a guardianship can help you protect an older loved one with significant health concerns.