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A family caregiver may need to seek guardianship, conservatorship

As they reach their elderly years, some Michigan residents may no longer be able to handle their personal affairs on their own. Some individuals may suffer a serious injury or illness, and others may develop conditions like Alzheimer's or dementia. For younger loved ones like you, it can be difficult to watch a parent or other older family member struggle.

If you have concerns about the well-being of your parent, you may wonder what to do. At first, you may have thought that your parent simply had a lapse in judgment once or twice or mislaid something that he or she could not find later. However, when a serious event took place like his or her power shutting off because of not paying the bills, you knew you needed to step in.

Acting as a caregiver

Many younger family members step in to be family caregivers when the need arises. You may feel that the time has come for you to ensure proper care of your parent and that his or her personal affairs stay in order. Of course, if you plan on providing that care for your parent, you may want to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Know your limits: You may feel that the caregiving responsibility falls to you because you are an only child or the eldest, but remember that you need to care for yourself as well and not take on too much.
  • Gain information: In order to properly care for your loved one, you need to know what condition he or she is living with and how you can handle it.
  • Do not do everything: In some cases, individuals with certain conditions can still handle certain matters on their own, and allowing your parent that sense of independence may be useful.
  • Talk to other caregivers: You may feel frustrated, resentful, guilty or a number of other feelings at times, and it may help to have contact with other caregivers who understand what you are going through.

While you may be able to act as a caregiver in certain capacities without legal intervention, if you need to make legal or financial decisions for your parent, you may need to seek guardianship or conservatorship over him or her. Becoming a guardian or conservator gives you the legal ability to take over your parent's affairs. Because legal steps are involved with this process, you may want to consult with an elder law attorney.

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