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Friday, June 11, 2010

Who should be guardian for your elderly relative?

Guardians for aging adults who need help with personal decisions are usually chosen from among that person's spouse, children, siblings, parents or close friends. The best choice for any individual will depend on who is available, who is suitable and who is willing to take on the job.

Guardianship is an interactive role. It's not a case of signing papers occasionally and never seeing the aging person. When considering candidates for guardianship, consider geographical distance. The guardian can't make day-to-day decisions in the aging person's best interests if the aging person has no opportunity to voice concerns or express preferences. Geographical distance can be the deciding factor if, for example, there are two chidlren who are both willing to be the guardian of their parent, while one of the children lives in the same town as the parent and the other child lives hundreds of kilometres away. The ultimate deciding factor is what's good for the parent, not what his or her children want.

Some questions other than geographical distance to consider when deciding who would be a good choice as guardian for an aging relative are:

  • Is the guardian frequently unavailable because he or she is away on business or pleasure trips?

  • Is the guardian already overwhelmed with other duties such as parenting or working?

  • Is the guardian accessible to the aging relative in emergencies or times of stress?

  • Is the guardian trustworthy?

  • Do the aging relative and the guardian already have a compatible relationship?

  • Is the guardian able to make important decisions without being unreasonably swayed by other family members?

  • Has the aging relative ever expressed a preference as to who the guardian should be?

These notes were excerpted from my book called "Protect Your Elderly Parents".

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