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  • Nicole J. Zuvich

What can you do if you have concerns about an elderly relative?

Updated: Sep 27

A chronic medical condition may cause an elderly adult to become physically or mentally incapacitated. If this happens to someone close to you, he or she may no longer be able to take adequate care of himself or herself.

The changes may take place gradually so that you do not notice at first. However, if you realize that an elderly relative is struggling, there are a couple of things you can do to help.

Contact adult protective services

Every state, including New York, has a Department of Adult Protective Services to assist and protect adults with mental or physical impairments. According to the New York APS, anyone can refer an adult who may be eligible for an evaluation of his or her situation. You can make the call to APS referring an elderly relative for an evaluation.

If your relative is eligible, the APS provides services and support to resolve any safety issues and help the individual live independently within his or her home and community. Examples of such services include assistance with financial management, assistance in receiving public benefits and referral for medical examination.

Request a guardianship

It may be that your elderly relative requires assistance to look after his or her financial affairs due to his or her incapacitation. According to New York State Senate, anyone concerned with the welfare of someone allegedly incapacitated has the right to commence proceedings to have a guardian appointed. The judge appoints a court evaluator who meets with the individual for purposes of assessing his or her capacity.

If the court evaluator determines that the individual would benefit from having a guardian, he or she makes a recommendation to the court with regard to the powers the guardian should have over the individual. The next step is to hold a hearing.

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