Watching someone come to terms with a traumatic brain injury is never easy. They are more vulnerable than they ever thought they would be, and they’re looking to you for support that you never thought you would need to give.
On the one hand, this is still your loved one and that hasn’t changed, but on the other hand, there are a lot of decisions they might not be able to handle making anymore. No one wants to be in the position of needing to make decisions for a loved one. It feels like you’re robbing them of their independence. But what happens when they can no longer be completely independent?
Specific vs. general power of attorney
There is no need for your loved one to give up all independence when they are still able to make some decisions on their own. A special power of attorney can give someone the authority to make limited decisions for someone who is unable to make those judgements.
When the traumatic brain injury has left your loved one completely unable to make his or her own choices, a general power of attorney will allow an appointed person to make any decision on their behalf. While it will be difficult for both of you to have to come to the realization that a general power of attorney is necessary, getting it out of the way early will make the adjustment process easier.
Guardianship requires court involvement
The big difference between a guardianship and a power of attorney is that your loved one can choose a power of attorney privately and a guardian is appointed through a court proceeding. In general, the court is hesitant to appoint a guardian and will only appoint one when it is absolutely necessary.
It isn’t a position that either of you wants to be in, but when a TBI robs your loved one of the ability to make decisions (including be unable to choose a power of attorney), a court appointed guardian will help you establish the continuity of care your loved one needs.
When changes are necessary
With a traumatic brain injury, things can change. For better or for worse. One of these agreements therefore might need to be changed. With a power of attorney, the process is simple. You can either destroy the original or file a motion for revocation of power of attorney. If a change in guardianship is needed, that will require another court hearing.
Finding a new normal
The accident wasn’t planned and there’s no way to get things back to the way they were before, but a power of attorney or guardianship can help you ensure your loved one is able to get the care they need as you make your way toward a new sense of normal.