Mental Competency and Its Influence on Elder Law
Mental capacity is almost always determined in a court of law. The person attempting to prove or disprove the mental capabilities of another will need to present evidence that will support his or her case. Medical records act as a major resource in this regard, and often, mental health professionals are capable of judging whether a person is mentally competent. It is not uncommon for lawyers and courts to consult psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, and other medical practitioners during these times, and their statements will naturally hold a significant amount of weight.
Medical Disorders That Can Impact Mental Competence
Sadly, as human beings age, they are often subject to numerous neurological disorders that can rob them of their ability to make rational decisions. Various types of dementia, in particular Alzheimer’s, are common in older individuals, and when they strike, they can leave a formerly independent man or woman in a childlike state. Family members and friends are devastated to find that their loved one no longer recognizes them, and sometimes, caregivers are needed to provide the patient with around-the-clock monitoring and care.
If an elderly individual already suffers from a mental disorder, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, loved ones may already be used to making decisions for him or her. However, if the loved one has accumulated property and money throughout the years, he may need another person to make decisions on his behalf. Whether an elderly individual suffers from a neurological or psychiatric disorder, he will need advocates on his side to make decisions that are in his best interest.
The Role of the Caregiver
It is important for the loved ones of incapacitated individuals to ensure that the individual is properly cared for and receives the best medical treatment possible. Most caregivers take this responsibility very seriously, but unfortunately, there are those who use the afflicted individual’s mental state to their advantage. These caregivers often spend the individual’s money irresponsibly, and may even use his or her resources while neglecting to pay for his or her healthcare. This type of behavior is a serious form of elder abuse, and if loved ones don’t step in and stop it, the abuser’s behavior can continue indefinitely.
If you believe that a loved one is no longer mentally capable of making rational decisions, you may need the assistance of Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC. Our elder law attorneys serve the Bloomsburg and Columbia County areas, and we would be more than happy to hear the details of your case. Contact us now at (570) 784-5211 to learn more.