As people age, their physical health tends to decline, as does their mental acuity. Although some people can remain independent and cogent into their 90s and beyond, others may start experiencing cognitive and physical decline as early as their late 60s.
Minor physical issues, such as reduced mobility or joint pain, are of less concern to the children of the aging adults than signs of cognitive decline. As someone who loves an older adult, you may worry that your loved one could reach a point when they can no longer make decisions in their own best interests.
Here are some warning signs that your loved one may benefit from a guardian who makes legal decisions on their behalf or a conservator who manages their financial concerns.
Your loved one’s memory is not as strong as it was before
Mild memory loss is common and unconcerning in older adults, but moderate to severe memory loss can impact someone’s ability to live independently. If an individual can’t remember that they turned on the stove once they leave the kitchen, they could easily wind up hurting themselves or endangering others.
Your loved one experiences profound confusion
Perhaps your loved one’s memory isn’t noticeably different overall, but you have noticed that they have moments where they seem disoriented, as though they don’t know where they are or why they are there. Confusion and a lack of connection to the realities of their daily life can be a warning sign of dementia.
Drastic changes in mood or personality are also concerning
Has your loved one gone from an amiable, compassionate person to someone abrasive, aggressive or withdrawn? Changes in personality could be a sign of cognitive decline.
Finally, if your loved one no longer fulfills all of their obligations, possibly failing to buy groceries or pay their bills on time, you may need to ask the courts to intervene and appoint you or someone else that your family trusts as the guardian or financial conservator for your aging loved one.