Protecting a parent experiencing dementia

Two men sitting side by side, one man has his arm around the other.

Seeing a parent experience memory loss or declines in their reasoning and thinking skills is undoubtedly painful for any child. Whether these symptoms are caused by Alzheimer’s or another disease, they can be highly disruptive and prevent a parent from living independently.

If your parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or is exhibiting early signs of dementia, the steps you take now can have a tremendous impact on their lives and legacies.

Appointing a guardian

In some cases, a parent may require the protection and services of adult guardianship, or a committee. Guardianships can give another person the authority to make decisions on behalf of someone else, which can be vital for a parent who is incapable of handling their own affairs. However, this is not a designation to take lightly.

The Adult Guardianship Act, which entitles adults to accept or refuse support, presumes adults to be capable of caring for themselves and their finances. Proving otherwise requires an assessment by a qualified health care provider. 

In other words, if you want to have the courts appoint you or someone else as a guardian to take care of your parent’s personal affairs or finances, you will need to prove they are incapable of doing so themselves. 

Talking to them about their estate plans

If your parent has yet to be diagnosed with a severe condition but is showing signs of memory loss or other mental declines, it can be crucial to speak with them about their estate plans now. 

Talking to your parent about this can be uncomfortable, but doing so can have far-reaching benefits.

Before your parent becomes too ill to express their wishes or make decisions, you can talk to them about:

  • Whether they have an estate plan in place 
  • What they want to happen in the event of incapacity
  • Who they want to make decisions on their behalf, if necessary
  • How you can help preserve their legacy

Getting some insight into whether your parent has plans and how you can help them protect those wishes can ultimately help to prevent any concerns of financial abuse or wrongdoing in the future.

Dementia can take a tremendous toll on families. Taking these steps sooner than later when your parent shows signs of illness or has been diagnosed with one allows you to plan ahead and protect your parent when they need it most.

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