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Sure, just about everyone who is over the age of 50 makes jokes about having “senior moments” when they forget something — but are those moments of forgetfulness actually the sign of something serious?

Your relatives may think so, even if you don’t.

Many well-meaning relatives start to interpret ordinary memory lapses as dementia once someone starts to get older — and that can create legal complications if it happens to you. You wouldn’t be the first individual whose relatives suddenly decided a conservator was needed to handle a loved one’s funds or a guardian to make decisions for a relative without real justification.

The best way to make sure that you can prove you’re competent (if the question arises) is to make sure that your doctor screens you for dementia — which is not something that is done during a routine office visit. In fact, only one out of every seven seniors receives a cognitive assessment when he or she visits a physician.

If your relatives are expressing concern (or you have any concerns yourself), make sure that you mention the issue to your doctor and request a screening. A satisfactory result can go a long way toward ending questions about your ability to handle your own funds and retain your autonomy. It can also go a long way toward providing convincing evidence in court if it becomes necessary.

Just because you’ve aged, you don’t have to let your freedom slip away — and that includes situations where you’re at odds with your relatives over your spending habits or lifestyle choices. If you need help fighting an unwanted guardianship petition, please contact our office as soon as possible.