Old age is inevitable for those healthy enough to get there. Much as getting old is inevitable in this sense, it is equally inevitable if you have an aging parent or both, you will have to grapple with many issues that come with aging before you reach your senior years.
The most common of these is determining whether some of the behavior you see from the parent is indicative of routine forgetfulness or if it is the case that your parent is developing the dreaded dementia. When a parent is at this stage in their lives, it is said that they are in the “grey zone.”
What is being in a “grey zone” for an elderly person?
Being in a “grey zone” is being in the difficult place in between being able to independently make decisions and being unable to make decisions or manage your own affairs. Many seniors often find themselves in this grey zone because of cognitive decline, which is often gradual and ultimately gets worse to the point the affected person can no longer live independently.
For example, an individual who is diagnosed with dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease specifically, may not lose the capacity to make financial and legal decisions right away. However, it is often difficult to gauge when time has arrived for someone else to take over making these decisions for them. This is a difficult decision for adult children to have to make.
An often-overlooked problem associated with cognitive impairment is their vulnerability to financial abuse in the hands of scammers, caregivers, and even family members. This problem is overlooked when an individual is in the early stages of dementia because the impairment is not readily observable or obvious to alert a caring person to intervene.
What Should I Do in the Event I Am Diagnosed with Dementia?
If you are the one who has been diagnosed with dementia, then it is important that you appoint a trusted person to be ready to take over decision-making for you, especially decisions that affect your finances and health. If it is your parent who has been diagnosed with dementia, and they are in their early stages, it is equally critical that you encourage them to appoint you or someone else they prefer to make decisions for them.
In the event you waited too long, and your parent has now completely lost their ability to make financial or legal decisions, then you may have no choice but to pursue a conservatorship instead. This is a process that can take several months and in some cases several years and can be costly. It is better avoided by acting early on when the dementia is diagnosed or is in the early stages.
One of the things you can do when the diminishing cognitive ability of your parent becomes apparent, and long before it becomes impossible for them to handle their financial and legal decisions, is to seek legal advice from an experienced elder law attorney who can determine the best plan for your family’s specific circumstances.