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Is it time to consider guardianship for your parent?

Your parents took care of you during your childhood and adolescence, and now that they have grown old, you want to return the favor. You can take care of them by spending time with them and ensuring they have all they need. However, caring for our loved ones may also mean appointing them a guardian when they can no longer make responsible medical or financial decisions. If your parent is constantly forgetting or losing things, it may be time to take action to protect them.

Guardianship in Delaware

In Delaware, an adult person can get a guardian only if they have a disability and cannot make their own decisions. This does not mean that your parent should get a guardian only because you don’t agree with the choices they have been making. To be eligible for a guardian, a doctor must declare they are mentally disabled. In some cases, physically disabled people can also get a guardian.

How to identify a mental disability

The older your parent gets, the more probable it is for them to develop a mental disability. According to the World Health Organization, more than 20% of adults over 60 years old have a mental disorder. The most common mental disorders in this age group are dementia and severe depression, and each of them has symptoms that you may be able to identify:

  • Symptoms of dementia: memory loss, confusion, disorientation, paranoia, personality changes, inappropriate behavior and having difficulty communicating, reasoning and handling complex tasks.
  • Symptoms of severe depression: fatigue, irritability, moving or talking slowly, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering, eating less or more than usual, restlessness and difficulty making decisions.

Dementia and severe depression can affect a person’s judgment. If your loved one shows any of these symptoms, you must take them to the doctor to get a medical evaluation. Only then will you know if they need a guardian or not.

Important considerations

A person with a mental disability can make the right choices, too. That is why proving someone has a mental disability might not be enough for the court to consider appointing them a guardian. The court may accept guardianship only if a person’s disability puts them in constant danger of suffering property loss, being abused or neglected or being taken advantage of.

Doing what’s best for your parent

If your parent qualifies for guardianship, then the court will appoint them a legal guardian. Your parent will have the right to choose who they want as their guardian, as it must be someone they really trust. The guardian can make their financial or medical decisions, depending on what your parent needs. No one should take advantage of your loved one´s situation, and a suitable guardian can prevent that from happening.

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