Four Common Medical Conditions that Can Lead to Mental Incapacity
When a loved one begins to lose the mental ability to make decisions about their finances and healthcare, it can be extremely terrifying. What will happen to the person’s home, money, property, and so forth? Will they get the care they need? Who will sign contracts and hire caregivers? Who has the right to make decisions for them now? These are all questions that must be answered, and it can be a complex and dizzying process for adult children or spouses. As a faith-based law firm in south Florida, the Sejour-Gustave Law Firm, PLLC is poised to help families make proactive and loving decisions to avoid public and painful guardianship proceedings. It is important to identify the problem early, however. Here are four common medical conditions that tend to cause mental incompetence and lead to the need for a guardianship.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. It is, more specifically, an organic brain syndrome. This means it is a form of physical change that damages the brain. It is not a mental health or psychological disorder, but rather a physical one that causes psychological changes. As explained by the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease accounts for between 60% and 80% of all dementia cases.
A cerebral-vascular accident (CVA) is more commonly known as a stroke. It happens when blood flow to the brain stops or is somehow greatly reduced. This can be a result of a clotting disorder or other causes. The effects can be devastating, and a stroke victim may lose cognitive function, speech, sensation, judgment, and other senses.
Much less common than Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia is caused by problems with the blood vessels that go to the brain and damage to the nerve cells. These changes can lead to symptoms similar to stroke. Furthermore, because it involves blood flow changes, some people with vascular dementia may also suffer from stroke. Symptoms are, much like other dementias, creates cognitive changes, loss of muscle control, and memory loss.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2014 alone, there were 2.87 million emergency room visits relating to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). As people age, the effects of TBI can become more severe, ultimately leading to significant personality changes, memory loss, agitation, and loss of judgment, among other problems.
What to Do if a Loved One Has a Cognitive Issue
Ideally, it is important to take action before cognitive changes occur. If a person still has their mental faculties, they should absolutely get powers of attorney in place, so that loved ones they trust can make their important decisions for them, including healthcare and finances. Depending on the size of the individual’s estate, this can be either simple or complex. If a power of attorney is not in place and a person loses their mental abilities, it may be too late to create powers of attorney, which means a court proceeding would be required, and someone would become a legal guardian. This is a public and more complicated process.
To prepare in advance and get your personal affairs in order, or to help a loved one make their arrangements, call the Sejour-Gustave Law Firm, PLLC today. Our team can work closely with you and your family to develop a comprehensive plan that resolves everything from powers of attorney to final estate plans and advanced directives. Do not delay. Once a person loses the ability to make decisions for themself, they may not be able to sign off on these types of documents, and court may be necessary. So call or visit our firm online today.