Monday, July 9, 2018
The Washington Post reported on the case of an 87 year old woman who convinced a judge to terminate her guardianship in favor of supported decision-making. This 87-year-old D.C. woman just made it easier for you to keep your independence explains that "[t]he octogenarian is the first senior citizen in the District to convince a court to terminate a guardianship placed on her in favor of “supported decision-making.” She and her attorneys successfully argued that with help from people in her life, she could make her own decisions and did not need a court-appointed guardian to do that for her."
Her case marks the first time that the District’s supported decision-making law, which was passed in May, has been cited in court to help a resident regain independence. Most of us have friends or relatives we turn to for advice. This is the same as that — but more. The D.C. law formalizes those relationships and requires institutions and organizations to recognize the role of people who serve in those supportive positions. The District is only the fourth jurisdiction in the country to pass the law, after Texas, Delaware and Wisconsin. (Virginia and Maryland — are you listening?)
The elder acknowledges the need for help for some things and the knowledge of who she calls to get that help. Her reaction to the ruling? She's quoted in the article: “It makes you feel powerful to be in charge of your own life,” she said. “You can have a lot of help everywhere, but you are your own boss.” She's realistic, though, recognizing that at some point she may not be able to live independently.
The Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship and Other Protective Arrangements Act (UGCOPAA) incorporates supported decision-making. So far Maine has adopted UGCOPAA and a bill has been introduced in New Mexico to adopt it.
Still, she said, she worries about the future, about whether one day she will be told that she can no longer live alone in her apartment.
She knows all too well what many of us, thankfully, have not yet had to learn — the suddenness with which life can change.