You’re growing worried about your parent. Alzheimer’s has set in, and memory issues have turned into safety issues. Maybe a stove was accidentally left on. Maybe your parent got lost outside of the house and couldn’t get home. You think it’s time for mom or dad to go into an assisted living center, just for the sake of safety.
You may have all of the good intentions in the world, but what if your parent doesn’t want to go?
You can suggest that it’s time to live in a home, you can point out the reasons why, but you can’t force your parent’s hand. If you bring him or her to an assisted living center, and your parent decides to leave, the staff often can’t do anything about it.
Focus on the end goal
One option you may have is to seek to become your parent’s legal guardian. If you’re given this power, you can then make the best decisions for your parent, which could include forcing him or her to move out of the family home and into an assisted living facility. This is tough. It’s emotional. You may feel terrible about it. But you can do what must be done to keep your parent healthy and safe. Focus on that end goal.
It is hard to get this power, though. Typically, judges allow people to have individual rights and freedoms for as long as possible. They don’t want to encourage on this too soon. If your parent doesn’t want to move and is lucid enough to show the judge he or she can make rational decisions, your request may be denied.
Sometimes, elderly people sign away these rights voluntarily. You may be given a power of attorney to make decisions for your parent if he or she can’t do so. You can get the rights to make medical decisions, financial decisions, and legal decisions. Many parents do this as part of their estate planning, knowing both that it may be necessary and that it’s best to do it in advance.
Knowing your options
When this really becomes a tough situation, though, is when your parent has not planned ahead and you think you need to force his or her hand for one’s own good. It is possible, but it’s far harder to do. This is why it’s so important to know about the legal options you have, when to build a case, and how to build it. A lack of rational decision-making ability must be demonstrated.
No child wants to be in this position, but it’s sometimes imperative to help those who, due to the unfortunate impact of aging, can no longer help themselves. If you’re looking at the future and wondering how to make the best possible decisions for your parent, make sure you know how the legal process works. As tough as it is to talk about, the key is to do what you know is right and to provide the help your parent needs when it is so desperately needed.