The Public Guardianship for the Elderly Program was established in 1986 by the Tennessee General Assembly. The primary purpose of the program is to provide conservatorship services to persons 60 years of age and older who are unable to manage their own affairs and who have no family member, friend, bank, or corporation willing and able to act on their behalf. This service is available in all 95 counties of the state, through district public conservators located at the nine Tennessee Area Agencies on Aging and Disability.
Currently there are 387 elderly Tennesseans receiving services through the program. These persons may be unable to make decisions regarding their finances or needed medical care; frequently, they need assistance in obtaining the basic necessities of life. District public conservators help clients by providing assistance which enables them to remain in the least restrictive environment while preserving personal dignity.
The guidelines for the program are found in the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability’s Policies and Procedures for Programs on Aging. In addition to supervision by the Area Agencies on Aging and Disability and oversight by local courts, local programs are monitored annually by the state program coordinator, a staff member of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability. The program is designated public sector, with some fees generated by court award based upon a sliding scale fee employed when the resources of a client indicate this to be appropriate. In no instance does a client who meets SSI low-income standards pay a fee. The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability adopted a suggested sliding fee scale for guidance in those instances when a fee is awarded.