Category Archives: Guardianships

GPS shoes new technology in elder care field

Texas residents may be interested in a device that a George Mason University assistant professor in Virginia has developed that could prove valuable for tracking seniors with Alzheimer’s who wander away from their homes and caregivers.

The professor, who in addition to his academic duties is a consultant on issues involving senior housing, created a shoe with a GPS chip inside it to track the movement of seniors suffering from dementia in all its forms.

The technology does have its drawbacks. Namely, the initial cost of almost $300 and the monthly service plan ranging from $20 to $40 along with the necessity of charging the shoe on a daily basis. But for those who can afford it, it’s one more gate in the often complex gate-keeping system family members and loved ones of aging seniors with dementia employ.

Caring for a parent or loved one with declining mental and physical health can be a grueling and thankless task, and there are many facets to keeping senior citizens safe. Keeping not only their physical but their psychological health and financial affairs afloat in the event of their mental incapacity can be a real challenge. Other family members may refuse to cooperate or worse, try to exploit your loved one for nefarious reasons, such as their own financial gain.

In cases like that, loved ones with the senior citizen’s best interests at heart can step up to the plate and obtain a guardianship for them so that their affairs can be successfully managed and their assets preserved. If you are concerned over a loved one’s worsening dementia and possible financial exploitation, the advice of an El Paso estate attorney can be beneficial to protecting him or her, as well as a lifetime of assets.

Source:El Paso Inc., “Va. professor champions shoes with GPS tracking” No author given, Mar. 23, 2014

Bringing home parents — El Paso elder care options

Baby boomers with aging parents are increasingly concerned about their loved ones’ needs as they live out their twilight years. The question of what to do about parents’ living situations is not always easily solved, as there are many factors to consider.

Adult children who live near their parents are better able to assess their mental acuity and physical ability to manage on their own. But when many miles separate them, the issues become murkier.

If you are considering inviting aging parents to share your home, there are some issues to consider. How well do you get along? Do you have personality clashes? Are there long-simmering issues between you that would bubble to the surface under one roof?

Even if you get along well, other factors to mull include your personal ability to participate in their hands-on care should that become necessary. Primary caregiving is often a thankless and stressful task

How do other family members feel about the potential addition to the household? Are spouses supportive or grudging? Do children and teens get along well with grandparents, or are their huge generation gaps?

What about finances? Would parents be comfortable with adult children handling their financial decisions or would they worry about exploitation? Do the parents have savings set aside for healthcare? Is there a long term care plan in place?

If there are siblings, how do they feel about the situation? Are they on board, and can they contribute — financially or otherwise — to their parents’ ongoing care needs?

If parents have mobility issues, consider the access in your home. An upstairs bedroom might be inaccessible to them now, or could become so in time. What modifications can be made to accommodate them?

Lastly, is this something parents would even consider doing? Some seniors are perfectly happy in assisted living centers and even nursing facilities, while others would construe such arrangements as familial abandonment.

Whatever your final decision, it may be helpful to consult with an El Paso elder care attorney to cover all of the bases and make sure parents’ changing needs are met and wishes are taken into consideration.

Source: El Paso Southwest Senior, “Moving Mom or Dad: Should they live with you?” Lisa M. Petsche, Mar. 05, 2014

Elder care and guardianship decisions for Texas residents

Not planning for health care crises and financial matters that might accompany one’s golden years can have a potentially negative impact on family members. While most people agree that these kinds of conversations are difficult at best, preparing estate planning documents ahead of time can bring peace of mind to everyone involved. The legal documentation used in assigning elder guardianship can be as general or as specific as the family desires and has the benefit of changeability over time. If the elder in question or a legal guardian decides the existing plan doesn’t work for some reason, they can make changes at any time.

Research conducted by adjunct professor, Todd Whatley with the University of Arkansas School of Law revealed that up to 80 percent of elder Americans have not prepared advanced directives regarding their end-of-life care. Legal experts agree that it’s never too soon to address important decisions like estate planning and elder care, but most people don’t think about it until faced with aging or a serious medical condition.

Even though broaching subjects like elder care and end-of-life instructions is uncomfortable, it can ease the way toward a peaceful resolution for those left behind. Consider this: even a young adult can benefit from estate planning in the event of a debilitating injury due to accident or a life-threatening illness. Without the necessary documents assigning family members or close friends for guardianship, a judge would intervene to appoint a legal guardian to make important decisions of behalf of the victim.

A range of legal documentation exists to provide instructions for elder care including living wills, medical powers of attorney and documents that specify fiduciary duties for family members. Aging elders in Texas and across the country can also create other documents such as last will and testament, letters of instruction and financial powers of attorney if so desired. Under the guidance of a qualified guardianship attorney, Texas citizens have the power to determine their own end-of-life care and retain the dignity every American deserves.

Source:US News Health, “6 Decisions to Make Before You Die” Kimberly Leonard, Feb. 26, 2014

Guardians can only do so much if client refuses care

More and more accounts of controversial guardianship decisions have come up in recent years. They can be fraught with life or death decisions when a patient is mentally incapable of taking care of herself. At issue in this Pennsylvania case is whether a guardian was justified in allowing a mentally ill patient to refuse to continue her life-sustaining dialysis treatment.

A guardian’s hands may be tied when a client refuses a prescribed treatment. When one 47-year-old patient refused to continue her dialysis, the staff in her personal care home tried to dissuade her. Due to her mental illness, the woman refused, claiming the dialysis was a trick. Upon her death, questions arose regarding this decision. The woman not only refused to continue her kidney treatment, she exhibited erratic behavior in the dialysis treatment facility and frightened other patients.

The patient, diagnosed with psychosis, was taking psychotropic drugs along with a prescribed course of treatment for renal failure. She repeatedly refused both, leaving her caregivers no other options but to make decisions for her. One staff member stated the woman had no idea she would die if she stopped her treatments. Although staff might convince her to go back to treatments when she got sick, one administrator called the woman’s life at the care facility a “roller-coaster.”

Final reports indicated that after consulting with her guardian, the decision was made to stop dialysis.

Now the issue remains if the guardian and health care agency could have done more to save her life. One spokesperson for the National Disability Rights Network said this case underscores the need to implement a better health care system designed to help mentally ill patients with more effective support systems to manage their quality of care.

In other cultures around the world, families and relatives step up to take care of ailing members. Here in the United States, some families are not willing to take on this responsibility, so a public health agency appoints a legal guardian, who makes decisions for the incapacitated person. Some experts say the issue is an ethical one that places a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of a stranger. A guardian may struggle with the final decision of when to allow a patient the right to forgo treatment that will ultimately result in her death.

Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “When a guardian decides on life or death” Joe Smydo, Jan. 18, 2014

The other side of guardianship: mental health

Last week we told you about Casey Kasem and his children’s attempt to gain conservatorship over their father. They were concerned that his health was so poor that he was unable to make his own medical decisions. Ultimately, the court disagreed, but it presented one side of why someone may need a conservator or guardian. The case of Amanda Bynes presents the other — mental health.

Any El Paso fans of Amanda Bynes knows that she has been acting erratically lately. The former child actress has been accused of throwing a bong out of her window, of driving drunk and having marijuana in her possession. She also allegedly started a small fire in someone’s driveway. All of these indicate that Bynes may be dealing with some mental health issues.

So, after a judge ordered her to undergo psychiatric care, her mother was also basically named her conservator. This means that her mother can make important decisions for her daughter while she continues her mental health treatment at a private facility. It also helps protect Bynes and her money from any poor decisions she may make because of her poor mental health.

Although family members hope that their loved ones will never have mental health issues, these kinds of situations happen more often than people think. When they do happen, a family member can file to be an individual’s guardian in Texas court, explaining exactly why it is important that the individual needs help making decisions.

For Bynes’ mother, all the judge had to do was look at her daughter’s very public meltdown.

Source:Los Angeles Times, “Amanda Bynes under mother’s conservatorship, moves to private rehab,” Richard Winton, Sept. 30, 2013

Casey Kasem’s wife, children fight over his care

As some Texans age or develop certain medical conditions, it is increasingly apparent that they need help with their care. More so, however, they may need help making important decisions. From health care to money, when someone is no longer able to make his or her own decisions, he or she needs a guardian. By filing with a Texas judge, a concerned relative or friend can apply for guardianship.

The decision of whether an individual needs a guardian or whether the applicant is the appropriate guardian, however, is up to the judge. For Casey Kasem’s children, the judge has ruled that Kasem did not need a conservator. The radio and television personality, who lives with advanced Parkinson’s disease, is currently being cared for by his wife.

Kasem’s children believe that their stepmother is keeping them from seeing their father and from making decisions about his medical care. As part of the judge’s decision, the judge took some time to visit Kasem, yet it seems he has not received information about Kasem’s condition from his doctors. Despite this, he issued his ruling that Kasem did not need a guardian.

As parents and family members age, it can be incredibly difficult to come to a consensus on what is best. Many relatives want to respect a loved one’s wishes, even if he or she no longer has the capacity to make his or her own decisions. Sometimes, however, there is disagreement, which could lead to competing claims for conservatorship. By building a solid case with an elder law attorney, however, it may be possible to show why one individual is the more suitable guardian.

Source:The Associated Press, “Judge Rules Casey Kasem’s Care is ‘Adequate’ — For Now,” Oct. 15, 2013

Being appointed as a guardian is a complex process

There are many people in Andrews who know people who are unable to care for themselves. Whether they are old, have cognitive disabilities, or are otherwise unable to make financial or medical decisions, guardianship is an important tool to make sure their rights are protected. Much of the time, the individual needing assistance, also called a ward, did not plan on needing a guardian and so someone must be appointed as a guardian by a Texas court.

It sounds easy enough, all a relative or friend must do is go to the court and ask to become a ward’s guardian, right? Wrong. The process requires considerable proof that the ward actually needs a guardian and a court needs to agree that the prospective guardian is appropriate.

The whole process will likely require a prospective guardian to consult a guardianship lawyer. Even after the individual has been appointed as a guardian, he or she will need to comply with strict reporting requirements or risk being accused of inappropriately spending a ward’s money. Working with a lawyer can also help to determine what is a qualified cost and what would draw the court’s suspicion.

After several rounds of reporting, some judges may discontinue future updates, but there is no guarantee that reporting will stop.

Granted, being appointed as a guardian is not the only way to become one. If a future-ward may suspect that he or she will need a guardian at some point, he or she can create an estate plan that includes who should be appointed guardian in the event that the ward cannot make his or her own decisions.

Source:Fox, “What You Should Know About Guardianships,” Andrea Murad, Aug. 30, 2013

Judge decides woman with Down syndrome can choose guardian

Many parents in Hudspeth County look forward to having happy, independent adult children. For some parents, however, they know their children will never be truly independent, most often because of a disability or accident. When adult children are not able to make decisions for themselves, it is essential that the children be appointed guardians. While a guardian should not completely run a person’s life or go against the incapacitated person’s wishes, the guardian provides support and care that the individual is otherwise unable to provide for him- or herself.

Although many people in need of guardians will choose their parents, not all will, and one judge has determined that a person needing a guardian should have some say in who his or her guardian is. Although this did not happen in Texas, judges here may also choose to listen to the disabled person’s preferences as to who his or her guardian is.

The 29-year-old woman at the heart of this matter has Down syndrome and the judge made it clear that she needed to have a guardian. He found that she was unable to remain entirely indpendent, but that he was required to listen to her preferences.

The young woman’s mother and stepfather had filed for guardianship and wanted to put her in a group home. The young woman, however, wanted to live with her friends, a couple that currently employ her to work in their thrift shop. Had her parents won guardianship, they would have been able to dictate who she spends her time with, where she lives and what medical treatments she would recieve.

Source:USA TODAY, “Judge: Woman with Down syndrome can live with friends,” Natalie DiBlasio, Aug. 3, 2013

When Alzheimer’s disease hits, many patients may need guardians

Alzheimer’s disease is a brutal condition that can rob a person of his or her personality, memories and ability to function long before he or she will die. There are a number of people in Socorro who are diagnosed with this condition every year and they are just part of the approximately 35 million pepole who have dementia, the umbrella disease that Alzheimer’s is grouped under. For the loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients, watching them decline can be hard, but many also recognize just how important it is for these patients to have a guardian appointed.

When someone with Alzheimer’s can no longer do some of the things he or she could previously, like work or remember to pay the bills, it is important to have a guardian appointed. A guardian handles an individual’s needs, including both finances and health. Whether one guardian handles both or they are separated into guardians of the estate and guardians of the person, respectively, is a matter on which a guardianship attorney can advise.

For some people, Alzheimer’s is a slow degeneration, and they may notice changes to their memories and mental capacities over time. There is new research that indicates that those who are worried about their memory decline are frequently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s or Alzheimer’s a few years down the line. If someone knows that he or she will eventually be living with Alzheimer’s, he or she may also want to consider appointing someone as a power of attorney.

Like a guardian, someone with a power of attorney is able to make financial and health-related decisions on behalf of someone who is no longer capable of doing so alone. One of the major differences is, however, that an individual can choose who holds a power of attorney, rather than have a guardian appointed by the court.

Source:The Associated Press, “Memory decline may be earliest sign of dementia,” Marilynn Marchione, July 17, 2013