Dementia and other types of cognitive decline are often thought of as a progressive and steady decline in faculties. However, that’s not always the case. There are some areas where a person might see accelerated decline. Other areas might remain unaffected. There are days that are worse than others or even times of day that are worse than others. All of this can be complex and difficult to navigate. That’s why so many people choose guardianship to protect someone who has dementia. However, supported decision making has been growing in popularity with many caregivers for the Developmentally Disabled and it is a model that can be used when working with loved ones with dementia.
What Is Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal arrangement not dissimilar from being the legal guardian of a minor. Someone who is a guardian for someone with dementia will make all of the consequential decisions for someone else. For example, if they decide to sell someone’s car, the guardian would be allowed to make that decision. The actual owner of the car, the person with dementia, might not have a say in it. Oftentimes, children become guardians for aging parents. While guardianship is used to protect a loved, it is a severe restriction of their independence and liberty.
Full guardianship is not always the right choice. It can actually encourage dependence, depression, and resentment. Instead, the Court can order a limited guardianship with supported decision making, which will still protect the loved one but still preserve their dignity.
What Is Supported Decision Making?
Supported decision making is exactly what it sounds like. Someone with a disability agrees to allow another person or persons help them make decisions. They will retain their civil rights and privileges, though. For example, a person with dementia might want to sell her car. In a supported decision-making system, the person with dementia would ask for advice on whether or not to sell the car. The other person would be able to help them make that decision and possibly even negotiate with the dealership about the sale.
A supported decision-making arrangement can be official or unofficial. If the other person needs to have legal rights to negotiate or make decisions, then an official arrangement would be needed. If it’s an informal arrangement, the person needs to be just a trusted individual.
Seeking Legal Advice
The best way to determine what type of arrangement is right for you and your loved ones is to contact a lawyer who works with disability and dementia. An elder law attorney will understand these different legal options in a very nuanced way. They’ll be able to talk you through the best options. Call McCool Law today for a free initial consultation.