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Mom Needs Help But a Guardianship Won’t Work – What Now?

I discussed in last weekâs post how a guardianship may not be possible where Mom needs help but is not necessarily incompetent.  So, what other options are there?  Momâs health has been in gradual decline.  The family sees it.  Sometimes they agree that action is necessary, some times not.  They have had more than one conversation with Mom about the need for long term care planning, for example moving Mom to a safer environment. 


The problem, however, is that the family (usually the children) are uncomfortable in their role.  Mom, understandably, is not thrilled with the suggestions, and may even be hostile.  Roles are reversed.  The child assumes a parental role, taking care of the parent, who cannot, or will not, consider the risks that lie ahead.  Yet the child is waiting for the parent to say âyesâ and can only go so far on his/her own without that permission.  So nothing is accomplished and the family simply moves from crisis to crisis, always seemingly reacting to events, not preparing for them.


Thatâs when you need to introduce an outside person into the conversation.  As I explain to clients, I can say things to your parents that will be heard differently than if you say them to your parents, or if I say them to my own parents.    I may, in fact, say the very same things that the family has been telling Mom.  But, now itâs different.  Mom may have been waiting for the children to take the next step.  It isnât just talk anymore.  One step turns into the next and thatâs how problems get solved.  That process can start with an elder law attorney.  It can also begin with a trusted advisor, such as your financial planner or accountant.


            Another opportunity that so many families let pass is when a crisis occurs.  Mom is in the hospital or rehabbing in a subacute care facility.  She wants to go home.  The family relents.  That may, however, be the best time to make a change.  It doesnât have to be a permanent one from the start. But youâve got doctors and medical staff to support you as well.  If everyone is telling Mom what needs to be done the focus isnât on the children.  It is a whole lot easier for Mom to accept.


            Just a few options to consider.  Time isnât on Momâs side.  Her health will continue to decline.  Sometimes itâs a matter of waiting for, and recognizing, the opportunities that present themselves, and then seizing upon them.  In the end, Mom may come to accept the changes as necessary, or at least grudgingly allow the children to take the action they know is necessary to insure Momâs continued well being.