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Are you concerned about a parent's diminished mental capacity?

At some point, many people in their 30s, 40s and 50s will have to confront the difficult realities of an aging parent's diminished physical or mental capacity. At the same time, often these same individuals are also dealing with raising their own children and increasing responsibilities at work.

In the midst of what for many is a busy and chaotic time in their lives, tending to an elderly parent's health concerns can be especially challenging and emotionally draining. Additionally, depending on how often an individual visits his or her parent, it can be difficult to determine the severity of a parent's forgetfulness or confusion.

For individuals with aging parents, it's important to recognize the signs of dementia and to takes steps to ensure for a parent's physical, mental and financial wellbeing in the event that he or she is struggling with the condition. For example, it's wise to closely monitor a parent who exhibits symptoms related to memory loss, confusion and disorientation. Additionally, some dementia sufferers also experience psychological changes that may include paranoia, agitation, personality changes and a general inability to reason.

It's a sad reality that elderly individuals with dementia conditions are often targeted in fraud-type schemes. Additionally, due to memory loss and a diminished ability to reason, individuals with dementia may forget to pay their bills or may make other unwise financial decisions. The onset of the condition, therefore, often necessitates changes to a parent's living arrangements as well as his or her control over financial matters.

For individuals who are concerned about an aging parent's mental capacity, it's wise to address these concerns with a parent's physician as well as an estate planning attorney. In some cases, a son or daughter may takes steps to obtain durable power of attorney which affords one the ability to make decisions on a parent's behalf related to finances and healthcare.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Dementia," Nov. 24, 2015

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