Americans are living longer than ever, and this can mean that some adults are reaching ages where they are physically functional but intellectually and mentally strained. In some circumstances, a person's body may endure longer than their mind, and this can mean that despite their apparent health, they are unable to care for themselves and their own needs. In Massachusetts an aged adult may have a guardian appointed if they are considered incapacitated and unable to take care of their own needs.
Guardians for incapacitated adults may be granted plenary or limited guardianships. A plenary guardianship is complete, which means that the guardian has the power to control all aspects of the incapacitated person's care. When limited guardianship is granted, the guardian will be given specific tasks to manage for the other person and that person will maintain some of their own rights and privileges.