Aging parents often need assistance from time to time, but if you notice your parents require significant help or seem unable to independently care for themselves, it may be time to explore legal options.
There are many ways that you can support your mother or father as they age, while still allowing them some autonomy. However, if you have tried every other avenue, you may need to consider establishing a guardianship.
What is guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal relationship that gives one person the right to care for and make decisions on behalf of another person. Becoming a guardian means you are responsible for the safety and welfare of the other person. Responsibilities of a guardian often include:
- Paying rent, filing taxes and carrying out other financial duties
- Making decisions regarding medical treatment
- Helping obtain benefits from government programs
- Ensuring that day-to-day matters such as cooking and grooming are taken care of
These relationships can have a variety of dynamics, but they often exist in families between adult children and their elderly parents or between parents and adult children with disabilities. An individual may need a guardian if they are unable to make rational decisions or cannot safely care for themselves.
How to start the process?
This is a big step that can be even more difficult if your mother or father is resistant to the idea. Losing independence can be traumatic and it takes time to accept that help is necessary. Be patient, honest and understanding in your approach, and communicate openly.
You will need to file a petition with the court to initiate the guardianship process. Be prepared to submit documentation or testimony to prove the necessity of guardianship.
Try to remain compassionate for the difficulties your parents face, and remind them that you have their best interests at heart.