Approximately three years ago I was asked by a nonprofit organi
zation to visit the home of an elderly gentleman to see if guardianship was warranted. I took one of the staff from the organization, as well as a professional
"Ziggy" lived with his girlfriend of 20 years. She clearly had cognitive issues but was able to offer information regarding Ziggy's status. According to her, he had no contact with his multiple children. He appeared malnourished, disheveled, was unable to speak, and was not taking his medications. She also provided all of Ziggy's financial information, which showed that large amounts of money were being used to buy cars that we previously had no knowledge of, as well as other financial payouts.
We sent Ziggy to the hospital for a thorough evaluation. He was dehydrated, ravenous for food and medically unstable. An emergency temporary guardianship was put in place. The guardian was able to get Ziggy medically stable and later determined that the girlfriend was exploiting Ziggy and showering her children with gifts, including car payments. Once stabilized, Ziggy was placed in a safe environment and the guardian was able to determine that Ziggy had been isolated from his children for many years. Not only that, she found out that the children were more than eager to provide the care he needed!
The guardian had advocated for this gentleman and was able to reunite the family. One of his sons eventually took over the care for his father.
Last year I went to an event that was attended by many seniors in the community. I sat at a table and began a conversation with a gentleman and his son. They were both very well dressed, and based on my conversation with them, both were highly educated. After about 15 minutes I came to the realization that I was speaking with Ziggy and his son! I was astonished and had tears of happiness. Ziggy was speaking and socializing with others! The son was very thankful for my initial involvement with his father, but he repeatedly asked me to thank the guardian for all she had done, including being the voice for a person that was so neglected that he could no longer speak for himself. This is what guardianship is about.