As your parents age, at some point, they may no longer be able to care for themselves. You may be worried if you feel they can’t make important decisions or if they refuse to. For some families, adult children must seek guardianship for an elderly parent, so someone else can approve medical care for them and more. But how do you know when your parent might need a guardian?

It’s a tricky decision because a court must rule your parent is incompetent to make decisions on their own. Some of the signs your parent may need a guardian include the following:

  1. Your parent has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s and refuses to sign over power of attorney. Early after a diagnosis of a memory illness, your mom or dad likely still can manage their affairs. Yet at some point, it will become evident they can’t. Perhaps bills are going unpaid or you discover your parent hasn’t paid taxes for the last few years. You may need to gain guardianship of them.
  2. Your parent refuses to go in a nursing home, but they require high-level care. Becoming elderly isn’t easy. Sometimes, a parent just will refuse to enter a nursing home, even if their doctor recommends it and it’s the best option for them. This is a situation where gaining guardianship of your parent can help.
  3. Your parent becomes incapacitated in an accident or suffers from mental illness and hasn’t named a medical power of attorney. If your parent suddenly is injured in a serious car accident or fall, or suffers from mental illness when medication is vital, you may need to seek guardianship of them. This is especially true if your mom or dad hasn’t appointed anyone as their power of attorney for medical decisions.

Seeking guardianship of an elderly parent is a complicated, costly process. The court will inform your siblings if you want to be your parent’s guardian. That can cause family disagreements. You should consult an elder law attorney before you start the process. An attorney can advise you if seeking guardianship for your parent is the best option.