3 signs it may be time to pursue guardianship of a loved one

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Elder Law |

Guardianships often attract negative attention. People associate adult guardianships or conservatorships with controversy and sometimes even elder abuse. There have been numerous high-profile cases where guardianships have led to financial abuse.

However, New York allows conservatorships and guardianships because they are sometimes necessary for the protection of vulnerable people. Not every older adult has the cognitive capacity to manage their own affairs as they age. In some cases, older adults might make medical decisions that put them at risk or might fail to properly manage their finances.

Family members can intervene by requesting guardianships or conservatorships when there are signs a loved one requires assistance. The following are some of the more common reasons why families might need to seek control over someone’s finances or medical decisions.

Alarming forgetfulness

Cognitive decline due to age may start small but can eventually reach a point where people struggle to follow recipes or fulfill their financial obligations. Often, older adults struggling to handle independent living don’t readily admit their major oversights to family members. Instead, those visiting an older adult might witness seemingly innocuous incidents. Someone coming into a room and then declaring they can’t remember why they entered the room is a warning sign of potential memory issues. As someone’s memory declines with age, their risk of major financial or medical oversights increases.

Aggressive collection efforts

Sometimes, family members do not disclose their day-to-day struggles but may reach out when certain issues reach a boiling point. For example, they may ask for help when they face a creditor lawsuit for an eviction. Aggressive attempts by businesses and creditors to collect on debts are often indicators that someone has gone an inappropriate amount of time without making payments or communicating with their creditors. Those collection efforts can be a warning sign of diminished ability and more challenges to come.

A diagnosis with a poor prognosis

Certain health issues, including Alzheimer’s disease, start with small symptoms and slowly worsen over time. Someone recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other debilitating health conditions may not yet have major symptoms. Sadly, as their condition progresses, they may experience additional challenges meeting their own needs and living independently.

Family members who worry because of someone’s memory issues, medical challenges or financial oversights may have reason to seek a guardianship for conservatorship. Taking legal action may protect someone who can no longer properly manage their own affairs.