March 3, 2022 by Dean Bellefeuille

adult child with senior mother

In a perfect world, our family interactions would all be positive and helpful. We would handle transitional times smoothly, cooperatively, and without any disagreement. As our parents grew older, it would be a seamless process to satisfy their needs today and their needs in the future.

The reality, however, is that being an adult child to older adults is often tumultuous. It’s not always easy to identify when to step up and assist, and when to take a step back so as not to step on your parents’ toes. And, there may be situations when your time and effort to help are met with resistance – while you know that help is needed for their protection and safety.

A great initial step is to make sure the senior has designated both a power of attorney and medical power of attorney. The person or persons entrusted with these roles will have the authority to make financial and health-related decisions on the part of the senior if she or he were to become incapable of doing so.

However, even though you are the designated power of attorney/medical power of attorney for a senior parent, you might consider going a step further and petitioning for guardianship of an elderly parent. This might be worth exploring if:

  • The older adult’s home or any other property needs to be sold
  • Medical intervention is necessary
  • Dementia or other cognitive function limitations are impacting the person’s decision-making ability

There is also the possibility for limited guardianship of elderly parents, if the older adult is capable of retaining control in some facets of life, while other areas are compromised.

How to File for Guardianship of Elderly Parents

  • First, schedule a consultation with the senior’s physician, who will need to determine whether guardianship is needed and complete a form testifying to the senior’s mental and physical functioning.
  • You can then file for guardianship at a probate court. The court will run a criminal background check, assess your financial responsibilities, and investigate whether there are any conflicts of interest.
  • You are then legally bound to inform both the senior and family members (as specified in the estate code) of your intent to acquire guardianship.
  • Lastly, the court will designate a lawyer to represent the senior, and a determination will be made to identify what is in his/her best interest.

With At Home Independent Living, we are here to help provide elder care in Syracuse, NY and surrounding areas to ensure all the needs of your aging parents are met. Call us at 315-579-HOME (4663) to find out more.