No one wants to lose their sense of independence. Especially for older adults, maintaining a sense of independence may be a top priority. However, some people will reach a point as they age where they will need assistance from others to handle their daily lives.
Unless older adults already have estate planning documents, like durable powers of attorney, in place when they begin experiencing cognitive decline, the only thing protecting them is the willingness of their family members to speak up when they see something concerning.
If you notice any of the three issues below affecting your aging loved one, it may be a warning sign that it is time to consider a guardianship.
They have missed rent payments or other bills
If your loved one has late payment notices from their utility company or warning letters from their landlord because they have fallen behind on payments, that is a warning that they have begun to struggle with maintaining their own affairs.
Older adults who struggle to balance their checkbooks or to remember the date could make financial mistakes that cost them thousands of dollars, destroy their credit or even put their living situation at risk.
They show signs of confusion when you visit
One of the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is difficulty managing the cognitive tasks required in daily life. If an older adult walks from one room to another and can’t remember why they did so or if they make plans with you one day and then display surprise when you show up for the visit the following day, those could be early warning signs that your loved one no longer has the capacity to fully support themselves.
They have started to avoid medical care
Older adults who worry about losing their independence may go to dangerous lengths to avoid family intervention. For example, they may start skipping medical appointments or not scheduling them at all because they want to prevent a doctor from diagnosing them with a condition or raising concerns about their cognitive abilities.
If you notice any of these warning signs, you may need to speak up for your loved one. Identifying when older adults become vulnerable could help you possibly pursue guardianship to assist them with managing their affairs.