Guardianship Program: A couple’s story

A Couple’s Battle with Dementia & the Importance of Guardianship

Cecilia and her husband had been married for over 50 years and never quite got around to doing too much planning for their senior years. When her husband started down the road of dementia, Cecilia’s time was consumed with caring for him and keeping him safe. When she felt she could no longer care for him – and he could no longer make decisions – legal guardianship was needed to admit him to a care center.

Cecilia was then overwhelmed with the paperwork required for his new living situation and her role of legal guardian. Luckily for Cecilia, the Outagamie County Department of Health and Human Services contracts with the Easter Seals Wisconsin Disability HelpLine in Appleton to provide training and assistance to county guardians through the Guardian Assistance Program. As part of this program, Cecilia was able to attend a group training session and meet with staff multiple times to help her understand her role and complete the required paperwork. “I don’t know how an old person like me would have gotten through this overwhelming process if this program wasn’t here,” says Cecilia. “I am so thankful to everyone who makes it possible.”

Since Easter Seals Wisconsin began this program in 2017, over 800 people have received training, assistance with completing paperwork, or simply gotten questions answered.

“Working with the Guardian Assistance Program has really opened my eyes to the importance of making our wishes known through the appropriate paperwork in regards to healthcare and finances, regardless of age, because we never know what the future holds,” says Jill Gretzinger, the Disability HelpLine Coordinator.

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