Pursuing guardianship is a serious step because guardianship significantly limits a person’s individual rights and freedom.
Full guardianship can take away a person’s basic rights to make choices about his or her life. Under full guardianship, a person may not be able to choose where to live, when to spend money, or who to have relationships with.
There are a number of alternatives to guardianship that, if tailored appropriately to meet the needs of the person, may delay guardianship or eliminate the need for it altogether.
Sometimes a single alternative may provide a person with the care, protection, and support she needs. Often, however, a combination of alternatives is needed to address a person’s needs.
A least restrictive alternative enables an adult with a disability to retain full independence and decision-making authority over his or her life. Least restrictive alternatives do not require a court order or court monitoring and/or oversight.
Some examples of least restrictive alternatives include increased assistance from family members and friends, additional support from community programs, such as “Meals on Wheels” or “Homemakers”, money management strategies that do not require a court order, and alternatives, such as mediation, that promote communication and family involvement.