What Will I Need to Do as My Parent’s Guardian?

Old man with son - guardianship in pa

Looking after an elderly parent can often feel like a full-time job, especially when it becomes clear that they need nearly full-time care.

In some cases, that means your mom or dad moving into a nursing home. In other cases, it means becoming – or having someone else named – your parent’s full-time guardian.

In this blog post, we’ll look at what it means to obtain guardianship in PA.

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Responsibilities of a Legal Guardian for Seniors

Legal Guardian for Seniors in PAWhen we think of the term “guardianship,” we typically picture someone tasked with caring for a child.

But what happens when an adult needs a guardian? It’s the type of question an elder law attorney in Bucks County is often asked.

So, let’s look at why an adult – especially a senior citizen – might need a guardian – and what that person’s duties could entail.

Why are guardians necessary?

Guardians are appointed when someone is no longer able to communicate their decisions or receive and decipher information.

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What is the Difference between Guardianship and a Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney vs Guardianship for seniorsBoth a power of attorney and guardianship are tools to assist someone who is unable to make financial or medical decisions for him or herself by appointing an agent or guardian to act in their stead. However, these tools differ in their responsibilities and the freedom and control they give to the elder or person with special needs.

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Caregiver Appreciation

As we know, May is Older Americans month but let’s also remember to celebrate the more than 45 million family members who care for seniors on a daily basis. On average, these caregivers provide 20 hours of unpaid caregiving support each week.

Josh Fotheringham, a former Apple software designer and current CEO of Caring in Place®developed the Caring in Place® iPhone app and online portal to help family members manage the complexities of caring for their aging loved ones.

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI)


SSI is the basic federal safety net program for the elderly, blind and disabled, providing them with a minimum guaranteed income. For 2014, the maximum federal SSI benefit is $721 a month for an individual and $1,082 a month for a couple. These amounts are supplemented in most states.  For example, Pennsylvania adds a supplement of $22.10 a month for eligible individuals.

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How You Benefit from Powers of Attorney

A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

When planning for the future of an elderly family member or child with special needs, you should consider preparing a powers of attorney. Powers of attorney are a simple and inexpensive way to help manage financial and medical accounts if you or your loved one is no longer able to make decisions clearly.  For reasons of simplicity and clarity, it is usually better to have separate financial and medical powers of attorney.

Powers of attorney eliminates the worry and stress of managing financial and medical accounts during a time of incapacitation. Powers of attorney are prepared by your attorney and give control over financial and medical accounts to an agent, who is normally a family member or trusted friend. The agent is then granted legal authority to manage the principal’s accounts, usually while he or she is unable to.

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Winter Fun for Elders

During winter the days get shorter and the nights get colder. Many seniors become homebound until the temperatures begin to rise into spring. It is still important for seniors to get fresh air and exercise even in the winter weather, and to find indoor activities to occupy their time.

Whether the temperatures are too cold, or the roads are too slippery, there are plenty of fun indoor winter activities for seniors. Here is a short list to get you started:

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Home Modifications for the Elderly

Modifying a home can make it safer and more accessible for elders to live independently longer. Home modifications adapt a living space so that the homeowners can live safely, perform everyday tasks more easily and live independently despite their physical limitations. Home modifications can be as simple as adding a hand rail in the bathroom or as complex as removing a staircase for a wheelchair ramp.

Many elders have houses that were built before architects thought about spaces that were accessible to everyone. Narrow stairs and doorways are fine for someone of a younger age but could be dangerous for senior citizens.

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When Should Elders Stop Driving?

For many elders and their loved ones, determining when they are no longer safe on the road can be a difficult and heart wrenching decision, but ignoring the issue can become dangerous.

Age related changes such in visual acuity, physical fitness and reflexes can hinder someone’s ability to continue to drive safely. Keeping tabs on the following things will help you know when it’s time for your loved one to turn in the keys.

Changes in vision and hearing- Loss in vision can make it harder for drivers to see essential traffic signs, lane lines on the road, as well as other drivers and pedestrians. Sensitivity to light at night can also make oncoming headlights dangerous. Loss of hearing can mean that typical signals used to alert drivers such as horns and sirens may go unnoticed. Continue Reading When Should Elders Stop Driving?

The Basics of Guardianship

Guardianship is a legal tool that grants a parent or other adult the authority to make legal decisions for a child or legally disabled adult.

There are different types of guardianship:

  • Guardianship of Estate – where the guardian is responsible for financial and estate matters only
  • Guardianship of Person –  where the guardian is responsible for non-financial decision making
  • Plenary Guardianship of Person and Estate – which entails full guardianship of person and estate

Each type of guardianship can also be in the form of limited guardianship which means the court can choose to let an incapacitated person retain any rights he/she is capable of exercising on his/her own. There is also something called co-guardianship which can be of person, estate or both when two people share the decision making responsibility equally. Continue Reading The Basics of Guardianship