How do I Know if My Parent is Mentally Competent?

Taking care of an elderly parent can be a thankless and difficult task. When the parent is showing signs that their mental capacity is deteriorating, this task becomes even harder. If you are concerned about the mental health of your parent, the first step should be to seek professional help. You may want to have a physical with your parent’s physician to determine if there is any physical reason for your parent’s actions. If there is not, the key question you will have to find an answer for is can your parent take care of their affairs?

If they cannot, your options are to determine if there is a power of attorney in place or seek a guardianship if there is not. Often a power of attorney will contain specific directions as to how to determine whether your parent is competent. You will want to follow any such direction. In the absence of a power of attorney, you may need to petition the court for a guardianship. This again will require showing the court that your parent is incompetent and designate a guardian with the court overseeing the entire process and requiring an accounting of your guardianship. This can be intrusive, but it may be necessary to help your parent.

As always, you will want to seek the advice and assistant of an Elder Law Attorney.

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