Posted by: Anne Bogardus, (Founder and former caregiver)
This information is provided for educational and information purposes only. It is not legal advice. Please consult an attorney in your state for specific questions about your situation.
Do you have a parent living in the twilight zone of dementia? Making even basic decisions about daily living needs can be, at best, difficult in this situation. How do you know when to step in and what legal documents are needed to manage their affairs on their behalf?
It is heartbreaking to watch a once-confident and competent parent decline in this way. As their child, knowing who they used to be and what they were capable of in the past, you want to help in whatever way you can. This is a difficult situation to be in–one of the characteristics of many forms of dementia is denial that anything is wrong–so a parent may insist they don’t want or need help, even when evidence is clear that they do. The medical term for this is anosognosia, which is caused by damage to the brain as dementia progresses.
- Unpaid bills
- Susceptibility to scammers or unscrupulous family members
- Decline in personal hygiene
- Unsanitary living conditions
These situations and other changes in a parent’s behavior can all signal that some type of intervention is needed.
The question is, how and when can or should a concerned adult child act?
In Elder Law: Making Sure the Right People Can Protect and Care for Patients with Dementia, attorney Marc B. Hankin discusses the different legal steps and documents that may need to be taken, what each does, and how they differ, in this informative video presented by UCLA Health. Even though this information is based on California laws, knowing the right questions to ask an attorney in your state can help your parent and you make the right decisions for your family situation.
NOTE: The presentation begins at 6:55 on the video; up to that point is just a screen with the UCLA Health logo. It starts out a bit slow–after a minute or so, it picks up and the information is quite helpful.