Family members are the ones that are there for you when things are difficult. Unfortunately, being a loving and supportive family member can sometimes require making hard decisions to protect the people whom you care about the most.
Many people experience significant cognitive decline as they age. Sometimes, it is simply a gradual loss of mental faculties, and other times cognitive decline is the result of a serious medical condition like Alzheimer's disease. Many older adults prize their independence and push back anytime someone suggests a limit on their freedoms.
From the loss of their license to the ability to live in their home by themselves without assistance, there are many issues that family members may have to address with aging loved ones. Sometimes, they must also discuss the decisions they make in order to present the issue from a unified front. Assuming guardianship over a parent is an issue in which you will want support from your siblings and extended family.
Have documentation of situations and issues that you believe show the problem
Is your parent no longer able to walk from one room to the next and remember why they did so? Do they struggle with executive function, remembering things or making decisions?
Any evidence you have of cognitive and mental health issues, such as a loved one falling prey to an online scam, or making questionable or dangerous financial or medical financial decisions, can help convince your family members that you have your loved one's best interest at heart.
Sometimes, voice messages that show how someone is rambling or even video taken on your phone can show your family why you feel concern for your aging parent. Other times, all it takes is a visit followed by a family meeting to get everyone on the same page about the reality of the situation.
Convincing your family can be practice for convincing a judge
While the truth is that you don't necessarily need universal support among your family members to secure guardianship, discussing the issues and explaining why you want to take this step can be excellent practice for going to court to ask for guardianship. The judge will likely raise some of the same questions and objections that your loved ones will.
Even so, you will also likely want to work with an attorney who has experience in this emotional and personal area of law. A lawyer will understand the legal steps necessary, as well as the standard of evidence required to support your motion to assume guardianship under Article 81 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law.
Those worried about their parent's ability to provide for themselves without assistance should consider sitting down with an attorney who can help guide them through the process of assuming guardianship.