Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Elderly persons who have difficulty making and carrying out decisions because of decreased decision-making capacities are at risk of decreased physical and emotional well-being. Because the number and proportion of elderly persons in the United States is growing, there is increasing concern regarding the rights to autonomy and the need for protection for this population. Personal conservatorship services are a form of surrogate decision-making in which a person is legally appointed to make decisions for another. After review of current literature, this research examines the nature and extent of personal conservatorship services for the elderly in two Minnesota counties. Findings show that social workers in various agencies define service needs differently. Gaps in personal conservatorship services, especially for ongoing medical and other decision-making needs, are identified for three populations of elderly persons (especially those without families): self-neglectful, indigent, and near-poor. Recommendations for program planning and policy development are included.


SC 11.MSW.1994.Hickman.LK

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