Our seniors are some of our most cherished family members. They are mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers and so much more. It is our honor to take care of our aging population as they did for us when we could not.
Caring for our senior citizens when they no longer can care for themselves is a societal responsibility and one of society’s greatest challenges. Guardianships are one way our society has for caring for seniors.
What is a guardianship?
A guardianship is a legally-appointed individual who oversees the legal and financial affairs of an adult or ward who is no longer capable of doing so due to age or illness. This guardian is responsible to the court for ensuring the personal, financial and legal well-being of the ward. The scope of the guardian’s decision-making powers is dependent on the case and the needs of the individual.
A growing concern
The state of Ohio expects the number of residents over 65 to raise to 2.4 million by 2030 and the number of Alzheimer’s patients to rise to 13.6 percent of this population by 2026. That’s a significant concern for both those above age 65 who wonder who will care for them and those below age 65 who wonder how their loved one receives necessary care. What happens to those who can no longer care for themselves?
Despite their best efforts, Ohio probate courts are already having difficulty meeting the care needs of our seniors. A recent survey showed only 1-in-4 investigators said monitoring guardianship for abuses was a part of their job. Just 25 percent of the 55 Ohio probate courts reported having one investigator and only six respondents reported tracking statistics at all. That’s troubling given the already high number of people over 65 years old and where that number is going.
A lack of funding for proper tracking and staffing systems may be partially to blame.
Don’t delay estate planning
This is the reality of the world we live in. The number of people age 65 and over is growing every day and probate courts are making the best with what they have for resources. It’s so important to estate plan before an issue arises. Documents like power of attorney and a medical directive will define who is authorized to make legal, financial and healthcare decisions when you cannot. Don’t wait until it’s too late to figure out who will take care of you after age 65.