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Tips for protecting parents with declining mental capacity

As parents get older, many can struggle with mental decline. It might start with gradual memory lapses or come on suddenly, but in either case, a parent in this position can become vulnerable to mistreatment, threats to their safety and neglect.

Thankfully, there are ways adult children can protect their incapable parents in these difficult situations.

Installing safety measures

If your parent lives with you, or if your parent is still in his or her home, there are several security features you can put in place. Consider:

  • Video doorbells
  • Medical alert devices
  • Smart home devices, like video “assistants”
  • Medication dispensers
  • Home security systems

These measures can help older parents feel safe in their homes. They can also make it easier for you to connect and check in on them.

Securing care resources

If your parent requires medical or personal care, either in their home or at a nursing home or assisted living facility, there are ways to enlist help safely.

For in-home care, ask others in your community for recommendations on care agencies or individuals.  If you are hiring individuals yourself, check out articles for helpful interview tips. Taking the hiring process seriously can help you feel confident in the person who will be in your parent’s home taking care of them.

If your parent will be moving into a care facility, conduct thorough online searches for any reviews or reports on a place. You can also visit, take a tour, and talk to staff members and other residents to get an idea of your parent’s daily experience.

Establishing legal protections

As your parent’s mental facilities decline, he or she can require legal interventions to protect their rights, wishes and finances.

Talk to your parent about powers of attorney, representation agreements, health care decision-makers and committeeship. These tools allow others to make decisions for an incapable person. They can be essential in ensuring your parent’s medical and financial wishes are fulfilled. Without trusted parties in these roles, there can be an increased risk of financial abuse, mistreatment and inadequate care.

Adult children may not be used to taking care of their parents. However, if a parent suffers from cognitive decline, dementia or other severe conditions, children can be the best people to step up and provide help.

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