What should you do if your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease?

Seeing a loved one suffering from this devastating disease is very difficult. Alzheimer’s Disease affects the person’s memory, his or her ability to carry out daily activities, and the ability to manage important affairs.

You might be asking yourself: what can I do to help my loved one during this difficult time?

Guardianship may be an alternative, if your loved one is not able to manage his or her affairs, or is unable to make important financial or medical decisions. You can help your loved one by filing a Petition to be Appointed Guardian with the Court. In the proper circumstances, the Court will appoint an individual to act on behalf of the person who is incapable of making decisions. The Petition can ask to be appointed guardian of the person, guardian of the property, or both. You may also be appointed to exercise all delegable legal right and powers of an adult after the Court finds that the person is incapacitated, this is called a plenary guardian.

The Court will first make a determination as to whether the person is incapacitated. The process is very involved, and it includes the Court appointing a three-member examining committee to make an assessment as to capacity. The Examining Committee members are usually psychologists, nurses or guardians. Once they assess the person, they prepare a report as to their opinion regarding incapacity, and then they file it with the Court. The Court will also appoint an attorney to represent your loved one during the incapacity proceedings. This is done to make sure that your loved one’s interests are protected. You will meet this attorney when he or she comes visit your loved one to read the Court documents. If the Court finds that your loved one is incapacitated, then the Court will move on with the Petition to Appoint you as guardian. If the Court appoints you as guardian, you will be able to act on your loved one’s behalf and protect his or her interest. As a guardian, you will be required to file annual plans with the Court to ensure that you are protecting your loved one’s best interests, and that you are properly managing his or her assets. It is important that you have a competent and devoted attorney to assist you during this complex process.