Less Restrictive Alternatives to Adult Guardianships
May 6, 2014
At some point in time, you may become so concerned about the well-being of a friend or family member that you consider seeking an adult guardianship for them. If you are thinking about pursuing a guardianship for an adult, you owe it to yourself and to the person that you are concerned about to learn about and explore the feasibility of possible alternatives. Guardianships are very restrictive, they are complex, and they should only be used under the most dire of circumstances, when no other means of addressing the person’s needs would be adequate to protect their health and safety.
For example, if your primary concern is physical safety and access to medical care, an assisted living facility may be able to address those concerns while still allowing the person much more freedom and autonomy than they would have under a guardianship. Some people who are not willing to move into a traditional nursing home do find assisted living facilities appealing. Assisted living facilities are secure, and the resources that residents need are close at hand. Residents in assisted living facilities have more freedom to spend their days as they choose than they would if they lived in a nursing home. The services provided by assisted living facilities can vary greatly, as there is no standardized definition of what an assisted living facility is. Before you seek guardianship for an adult, look for assisted living facilities in their local area which might be able to strike an appropriate balance between physical safety and independence.
If your main concerns involve things like not being able to drive a car or cook meals, you may be able to help your adult friend or relative meet those needs while remaining at home. Home health care providers can reduce the need for your friend or relative to go out to medical appointments. If the person that you are concerned about lives where public transportation is readily available, they can learn to access it for both practical and social purposes. Meal and grocery delivery services are another type of resource that can help to ensure that your friend or relative has easy access to nutritious foods that are fully or partially prepared.
Sometimes, a person may be capable of attending to their day to day physical needs, yet other tasks like managing finances may slip through the cracks. If you fear that your friend or relative has important bills that are going unpaid, you may be worried about severe consequences like eviction. In this type of scenario, you may want to explore designating a representative payee for their social security or disability benefits, so that their money is managed properly while they continue to live independently.
As beneficial as guardianship alternatives are, they are likely to be met with some initial resistance when you approach your friend or relative about them. Unless it is an emergency, the best thing to do may be to gather information about the alternatives, give it to them, and let them read it and make their own decision. If your friend or relative is able to decide on their own to get the help that they need, everyone will be better off.
Unfortunately, not every person will read the information that you give to them. Some may become belligerent, or deny flatly that there is any need for concern. The situation may even progress to a point where seeking guardianship is necessary. If this happens, at least you will know that you explored other options before doing so. To learn more about adult guardianships, call the Wichita law office of J. Joseph Weber, P.A. or contact us through our web site to set up an initial consultation.