Dementia diagnosis: Will guardianship be the next step?

Many adult children in Georgia do their best to support their aging parents, many of whom reside in various nursing homes throughout the state or in other locations across the nation. Finding a nursing home that is a good fit for a particular parent's needs can be challenging. Even after a parent has lived in a nursing home for a while, any number of issues may arise that necessitate changes in a long-term care plan or prompting a need for guardianship.

Many people begin to suffer from dementia as they age, a general term for a spectrum of symptoms that can occur with different types of illnesses and disease. A dementia diagnosis isn't always made from an initial examination. Symptoms can be intermittent or sporadic at first; therefore, it can take repeated medical visits and development of symptoms over time before an official diagnosis is given.

Dementia symptoms often include memory loss, depression, mental confusion, disorientation or even trouble speaking. A person suffering from dementia often shows signs of the condition when his or her gait is off-balance, or when visual hallucinations occur. Dementia is often associated with Alzheimer's disease as well as Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases.

Regarding long-term care planning, a person in a Georgia nursing home or anywhere must be of sound mind to sign estate planning documents, such as powers of attorney, final wills or advance directives. If dementia sets in with none of these documents in place, adult children may wish to discuss the guardianship process. A guardianship can help protect aging parents from financial exploitation or physical abuse. An experienced elder law attorney can provide additional information.

Source: alz.org, "Types of Dementia", Accessed on March 15, 2018

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