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Life care planning essential for parents with dementia

One of the hardest things an adult child can do is to care for a parent suffering from dementia caused by neurological disorders like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's diseases. Families in Houston and all over the country are torn asunder by the challenges presented by a diagnosis of dementia in a beloved family member.

Often these caregivers are still caring for their own children at the same time their parents receive the devastating diagnosis they have been dreading. When a demanding job is added into the mix, the stress can seem unendurable.

If parents have already taken care of some basic life care planning, it can be a great relief to those who must now step in and assist with major decisions like healthcare directives and legal matters. As there can be very serious and binding legal and financial ramifications from these decisions, it's always a good idea to seek professional legal advice before acting.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer's-related dementia does not automatically render one incompetent. It is a progressive disease, and those in the early stages will still be considered competent. In these cases, a durable power of attorney might be the best option, as it allows another trusted person to make the health, financial and legal decisions for them when they are no longer competent.

Regarding wills, a person must possess "testamentary capacity." This generally means that the testator was aware of the value and extent of his or her assets, who would be his or her natural beneficiaries and be able to make reasonable judgments about these matters.

One of the most onerous tasks of an adult child is taking the car keys away from their parents. The legal standard for driving often does not take into account the effects of dementia, causing the seniors' offspring to make the hard decision to force them to quit driving. If they remain recalcitrant, our attorneys can assist in obtaining a formal assessment of the individual's mental competence.

Don't feel that you are in this struggle alone. We can help make these transitions easier for all concerned while covering all of the legal bases.

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