Family gatherings, holidays and special events are perfect opportunities to check in on your aging loved one’s health and well-being. If you suspect your loved one may be struggling with their mental health, here are a few signs you can watch for at your next visit:
1. Confusion, or increased problems with decision-making.
2. Loss of weight and decrease (or abnormal increase) in appetite.
3. New complaints of fatigue or insomnia.
4. Difficulty managing finances or calculating numbers.
5. A noticeable change in personal hygiene, appearance, or home maintenance.
6. Memory loss, especially short-term memory issues.
7. Depression symptoms lasting more than a few weeks.
8. A change in social habits; withdrawal from events and people they normally enjoy.
9. Heightened anxiety, feelings of helplessness or thoughts of suicide.
10. New physical complaints that can’t be otherwise explained, such as aches, constipation, etc.
Early assessment is key to successful treatment of mental health concerns. Don’t assume these signs are just part of the aging process. Early assessment is also especially important if your loved one has not yet done their estate planning. If a person’s mental capacity declines past a certain level, they will no longer be able to sign a valid will or trust, or appoint a legal agent to assist them with their health care and financial management. This person’s care and eventual estate distribution will be decided by the State.
You may think your loved one has ample time to complete their estate planning, but based on our personal experience, once the signs mentioned above begin to appear, it becomes more difficult for a person to make these important life decisions. Similarly, a person struggles to decide whom they will ask to be their legal agent for health care and financial management, often fearing they will be a burden to others.
If your loved one is experiencing any of the aforementioned warning signs of possible mental health concerns, their family doctor is always a good place to start looking for answers. Next, they should make an appointment with their estate planning attorney to review or create their estate plan.
If you have questions or concerns about estate planning or your role as a caregiver, power of attorney or executor, please contact Davis & McCann, P. A., Dodge City, KS. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). We focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on estate planning, Medicaid and long-term care planning, business formation, family business/small business succession planning, probate, trust administration, real estate, and related matters.
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