“The Right to Make Choices”: Supported Decision-Making Activities in The United States.

Peter Blanck & Jonathan Martinis

Blanck, P. & Martinis, J. (2019). “The Right to Make Choices”: Supported Decision-Making Activities in the United States, 27-38, in The Will of the Protected Person: Opportunities, Risks and Safeguards (ed. M. Pereña Vicente).

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Research shows that self-determination and the right to make life choices are key elements for a meaningful and independent life. Yet, older adults and people with disabilities are often placed in overly broad and restrictive guardianships, denying them their right to make daily life choices about where they live and who they interact with, their finances, and their health care. Supported decision-making (SDM)—where people use trusted friends, family members, and professionals to help them understand the situations and choices they face, so they may make their own decisions—is a means for increasing self-determination by encouraging and empowering people to make decisions about their lives to the maximum extent possible. This article examines the implications of overly broad guardianship and the potential for supported decision-making to address such circumstances. It introduces the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making as one means to advance the use of supported decision-making and increase self-determination.