Q: My cousin’s friends are hinting that she needs a conservator. Who decides if and when a conservatorship is needed?

A: I’m sure the concerns of your cousin’s friends are well intended. However, a conservatorship is only one way to ensure that someone will be responsible for taking care of an incapacitated adult and usually only considered as a last resort. While the purpose of a conservatorship is to protect it also restricts and can be costly as well as time consuming.

A conservatorship must be formally established and ended by a court of law. The person seeking appointment as conservator must file specific legal papers and the court then schedules a formal hearing. Requirements are strict and paperwork technical.

At the hearing evidence is heard that either proves or disproves the claim that the person can’t make his or her own decisions. Friends and family may testify and a physician will report on the subject’s mental and/or physical condition. The court will then make a decision based on the information provided.

If the conservatorship is approved the conservator assumes the responsibilities as defined by the court for the care of the incapacitated party. This obligation lasts until the incapacitated party dies or the court formally releases the conservator of the responsibility.

Conservatorships are something to be avoided if possible. If it is unavoidable then the services of an experienced lawyer should be considered to guide you through the process.

Q: I have been told walking will help my physical problems. While I think walking a great exercise I am concerned with traffic and potential accidents. Do you have any hints on ways to reduce a chance of an accident?

A: Pedestrian safety is very important because it affects each of us every time we leave home whether as a pedestrian or a driver. Nationally, on average, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic accident every seven minutes and one in six fatalities is a pedestrian.

The first step to safety is in the pedestrian’s attitude. Although it is a driver’s responsibility to look and wait for pedestrians we know that isn’t always what happens. Those who walk need to be alert and concentrate on what is going on around them. It is not always the driver who is at fault.

Pedestrians should be realistic about their abilities. They should be aware of their capabilities and plan a route that is within their limits. This should include distance, hills and crossing main streets. Eyesight is also a concern. There is need to concentrate on surface conditions, curbs and steps. Also good shoes are essential. They should fit well and have good traction.

Since about a quarter of all pedestrian accidents occur at intersections it is essential to know how long it takes to cross the street. If need be always wait for a new green light or walk signal. It goes without saying that all traffic signs and signals should be obeyed.

Walking with someone is always more pleasant, so if possible find a buddy to share your walk. Walkers might also consider walking at a local mall. Many malls actually have walking clubs. It is an ideal place to walk as the weather indoors is always pleasant, the footing always flat and there is no automobile traffic to worry about.

Hope these hints help and happy walking.


Wednesday: 1:30-3 p.m. Seminar — “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test” — at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley.

Tuesday: 5:30-7 p.m. Path To Positive Aging Series — “Taking Charge of Your or Your Loved One’s Hospital Stay” — at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. For information and reservations call the center at 497-0189.

Tuesday: Fundraiser for Conejo Senior Volunteer Program (CSVP) in cooperation with Lazy Dog Café — for details call CSVP at 381-2742 or pick up a flyer at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.

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