Determining that someone is incapacitated is not always a precise process. Indeed, there are situations where a specific event or injury triggers severe mental or psychological issues that prevent a person from making decisions.
But in many cases, the transition into incapacity is gradual, so it may not always be clear when your parent may be legally incapacitated. In those cases, you should know signs to look for to determine if your parent may be unable to manage their affairs.
Signs of declining mental capacity
Colorado laws define incapacity as someone who cannot receive or evaluate information effectively. It is someone who cannot make or communicate decisions concerning their health, safety, or personal care.
Some indicators that your parent may be incapacitated include:
- Inability to recall close friends or family names
- Forgetting things you just discussed
- Using vague language or forgetting words for everyday objects
- Difficulty paying bills or understanding charges
- Engaging in irrational behaviors
- Neglecting their normal appearance and hygiene routines
- Difficulty comprehending simple or familiar concepts
If your parent is exhibiting these signs of declining mental capacity, it may be wise to explore the option of appointing a guardian.
How a guardian can help
Someone who is incapacitated cannot make safe, responsible decisions for themselves. They can be forgetful and take risks, all of which can take a drastic toll on their health and finances.
Guardianships can protect these people by putting someone else in a position to manage the essential details of a ward’s life.
For example, a guardian can ensure a person has a safe, clean place to live. They can manage the ward’s finances so that their utilities do not get shut off and no one can financially abuse them. And depending on the individual’s capabilities, the guardian will also encourage the ward to participate in the decision-making process.
Taking action when you are worried about your parent’s welfare
If you suspect your parent’s mental faculties are declining or are worried about them taking care of themselves as they get older, addressing your concerns sooner rather than later can be crucial.
When you are proactive, you can help your parent assess their options and discuss their wishes before it becomes too late for them to express themselves. And this can make things easier for them, for you and a guardian, should one be appointed.