Becoming a conservator of the person in California puts you in an essential caregiving role. The goal of the position is to make sure the conservatee’s quality of life is the best possible under the circumstances.
All the choices you make regarding the conservatee’s home, meals, clothing, activities and comfort should be about helping him or her feel respected, positive and self-assured.
The California Courts provide a worksheet to help you assess the needs of your conservatee in the Handbook for Conservators. It includes the following types of questions about the conservatee:
- Ability to care for hygiene and toileting matters
- Ability to fix food and eat
- Appetite and willingness to eat
- Interest levels in activities and other aspects of life
- Recent doctor and mental health provider examinations
- Medications and ability to take them or need for help
You will need to identify how much, if any, your conservatee is able to manage the home, finances and transportation (including personal mobility). Memory issues, mental health issues and emotional instability should also be in the assessment.
Developing a plan
Once you know what your conservatee needs, you can use that knowledge to create a plan. It should allow him or her to do as much as possible independently but provide plenty of assistance to prevent frustration or accidents.
You may have to decide where the conservatee will live. If the current home is safe and suitable to the conservatee’s needs, then you likely should not make a change. The goal is to find the least restrictive home setting. While in some situations, that may be a residence, in others, a residential care facility may provide the safety and social opportunities that the conservatee needs for good quality of life.
Although being a conservator does put another person’s well-being in your hands, you do not have to shoulder that responsibility alone. There are many resources for conservators and caregivers in the community and through federal, state and local programs.