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Public Guardianship Services

The Maryland Department of Aging Public Guardianship Program serves individuals 65 years of age and older, who have been deemed by a court of law to lack the capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning their daily living needs. The law authorizes, as a last resort, appointing the Secretary of the State Department of Aging or the Director of a local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) as a "guardian of person" when there is no other person or organization willing and appropriate to be named. The program provides protection and advocacy on behalf of the disabled older adult through case management provided by guardianship specialists of the program.

LESS RESTRICTIVE ALTERNATIVES

Advance Directives - are legal documents that allow you choose someone to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so for yourself and/or outline what end of life treatments you do or do not want to undergo. There are three sections to the State’s model advance directives form, which may be completed fully or partially; meaning you may just appoint a decision maker or just document your treatment options or both.

  • If you decide to name someone to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated, that individual named is called a Health Care Agent. He or she can make any decisions authorized in the document. A guardian of person may not be required if there is a health care agent, unless the agent does not have the power to make the specific medical decision needed. Section I of the advance directive form states your selections and outlines the authority given to the health care agent.
  • Section II of the State form enables you to communicate your wishes on what types of treatments you wish to receive as well as the treatments you do not want to have. This section is also referred to as a Living Will. Types of treatments include use of feeding tubes, ventilators, and pain medication.
  • A guide, “Maryland Advance Directive: Planning for Future Health Care Decisions”, which contains the State’s Advance Directive Forms, can be found online at: http://www.oag.state.md.us/healthpol/adirective.pdf.
    Additional details on advance can also be found on their website at: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Healthpol/AdvanceDirectives.htm

Surrogate Decision-Making – Maryland’s Health Care Decision Act allows relatives or close friends of an incapacitated person to consent to certain medical procedures. The statue also provides the surrogate the ability to withhold or withdraw of life-sustaining procedures without first obtaining a guardianship under certain circumstances (terminal, end-stage, and persistent vegetative state). The statute defines the priority of surrogate decisions makers and protocols to be followed. Download our brochure, for Making Health Care Decisions for Others. For more detailed information go to http://www.oag.state.md.us/Healthpol/proxyGuide.htm

Resources

Contact Person: Phoenix Woody, Program Manager, 410-767-1100, phoenix.woody@maryland.gov