An Ohio probate court may declare an adult incompetent owing to mental impairment and appoint a guardian. However that’s where the system often ends.
An Ohio probate court may declare an adult incompetent owing to mental impairment. They may then become a ward of the state with an individual, a corporation, or an organization acting as their guardian. This guardian then has authority to make personal, property, and financial decisions on their behalf. However, Katie Ellington of Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism is concerned the system is not working well for defenseless seniors.
Ohio Probate System Facing Mushrooming Senior Population
The baby boomer phenomenon created a situation where the number of senior people is historically skewed. “By 2040 there will be a 6 percent drop in population” according to Ray Hexamer. The president / CEO of the Stark Economic Development Board was speaking to the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce at the time.
“Nearly 40 percent of residents work outside the county,” he explained. “And by 2020 nearly two-thirds of jobs will require a post-secondary credential.” Moreover, in the next decade, the population of people age 65 and older is expected to rise. This imbalance is putting pressure on Ohio probate courts. This is because they are responsible for creating and monitoring guardianships of the frail elderly. There is a delicate balance between freedom and protection, Katie Ellington says.
During the period 2010 to 2030 the number of Ohioans over 65 will grow to 2.4 million from 1.6 million if trends continue. Furthermore, the total alzheimers patients will increase 13.6% in the next seven years. “Being a guardian is pretty much like being a parent,” Judge Randy Rogers of the Butler County Probate Court commented. “It’s a tremendous responsibility.”
Ohio Authorities Struggling to Keep Tabs on Vulnerable People
The US Senate Committee on Aging expressed concerns that senior guardianship abuse cases are not being tracked. “Once a guardianship is imposed, there are few safeguards in place to protect against individuals who choose to abuse the system,” it said. Moreover, “Few states are able to report accurate or detailed guardianship data.”