You notice the physical symptoms of aging as your parent slows down and develops health problems such as hypertension or arthritis. The signs of declining cognitive function can be more difficult to detect, however.
Be aware of the signs that your elder loved one may need the assistance of a legal guardian.
Lack of home upkeep
You may need to seek help if your formerly tidy parent has let bills pile up on the counter and dishes in the sink. He or she may have a refrigerator full of expired food and rely on canned goods or takeout meals. Simple household tasks such as cleaning and preparing food become more difficult when a person develops dementia.
Mental health issues
Depression and anxiety are common among older adults. While these issues are treatable, they can also arise as symptoms of dementia. In this case, your loved one may need a guardian to assist with legal matters and daily care. Be aware of sadness, fear, a loss of interest in activities, unexplained weight loss and other mental health symptoms.
Forgetfulness and confusion
While some loss of cognition is a normal part of aging, your loved one could require guardianship if confusion or forgetfulness impacts his or her daily life. If this occurs, your parent may forget important dates, lose things, get lost while driving, or forget how to perform tasks like paying bills or balancing a checkbook.
Ideally, you should have a frank conversation with your parents about the next stage of life before they become incapacitated. Estate planning can help you ensure that they receive care according to their wishes.