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Elder Care: When Can Your Parents No Longer Make Their Own Decisions?

One of the most serious considerations in elder care is competence. It is a delicate topic to consider whether your aging loved ones are truly mentally competent to continue making their own decisions, or whether you need to step in and become legally responsible for making decisions regarding their financial situation and health care. As with many other elderly health care considerations, you may find that your aging loved one is extremely resistant to discussing the topic of competence, and may even become defensive and angry should you bring up any concerns that you may have. Even if your aging loved one is not offended by your discussion of his competence, you may find that your siblings or other people in your family feel that you are making a rash or even selfish decision. If you’ve been providing ongoing elder care for your aging loved one, however, it is your responsibility to stand up for the health and well-being of this senior by recognizing when his mental faculties have reached a point at which they are no longer sharp enough to make beneficial decisions, and take the steps to protect him through your legal guardianship.

If you’ve been pondering the competence of your aging loved one in the course of your elder care, there are certain warning signs that you may wish to look out for.

These include:

  • Your aging loved one has not changed his clothes in a few days, or has put on dirty clothes
  • The clothing that your aging loved one is wearing is disheveled or stained
  • Your aging loved one has not been attending to his hygiene, including bathing, washing his hands, brushing his hair or brushing his teeth
  • The home has become disorganized, messy or even dirty
  • You find items placed or stored in a logical places such as canned goods in the refrigerator or clothing in the oven
  • You notice excessive expenditures on bank accounts or credit card statements
  • Your aging loved one begins receiving a tremendous number of packages from mail-order services or televised sales services
  • Your aging loved one no longer seems capable of following the progression of a conversation, or is not expressing emotion in a way that is appropriate for the situation.

If you have concerns that your aging loved one is no longer competent, contact the elder care services in your area for help finding legal resources that can help you protect his interests.

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