Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Utah Supreme Court Rejects Attempt to Specify Nevada Law as Controlling "Irrevocable" Trust

In Dahl v. Dahl, the Utah Supreme Court was asked to examine the effect of a choice-of-law clause in a trust that purported to be "irrevocable." The clause provided:

"Governing Law. The validity, construction and effect of the provisions of this Agreement in all respects shall be governed and regulated according to and by the laws of the State of Nevada. The administration of each Trust shall be governed by the laws of the state in which the Trust is being administered."

The first sentence of the provision was significant, because the trust granted husband-settlor continuing rights of control, even as he argued the "irrevocable" label was valid, prohibiting wife from claiming any marital interest in assets used to fund the trust.

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March 4, 2015 in Books, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Property Management, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Giving While Living -- Completing Chuck Feeney's Original Mission for Atlantic Philanthropies

For more than twenty-five years, The Atlantic Philanthropies has been one of the most important funding sources for nonprofit and NGO work on health, education and equality issues in the U.S. and beyond, often providing key support for legal advocates including those at the National Senior Citizens Law Center (with its new name, Justice in Aging). My first encounter with AP began in Ireland in 2009-10, when I was based at the Changing Ageing Partnership, an AP funded-project at Queen's University Belfast.  

Everywhere I turned during that sabbatical, I encountered the good works underway as the result of Chuck Feeney's decision in the mid-1980s to transfer virtually all of his considerable personal wealth to Atlantic.  I learned that for the first half of AP's history, the grantmaking was anonymous and Chuck Feeney's role was largely unknown.  The publication of The Billionaire Who Wasn't, by Irish writer Conor O'Clery, helped to change that visibility, and Mr. Feeney began to embrace a more public commitment to "giving while living." 

My own work was impacted by what I learned that year, and I soon added a course on Nonprofit Organizations Law to my teaching package at Penn State's Dickinson Law.

Now Atlantic Philanthropies is facing its final two years of new grants, with 2016 being the concluding year.  The final grants will focus on four themes:

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February 27, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Grant Deadlines/Awards, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Why A "Pooled Trust" for Special Needs?

Texas attorney Renée C. Lovelace has literally written the book -- a guidebook -- on Pooled Trust Options.  Renée was a recent guest speaker at Penn State's Dickinson Law, appearing before students in an advanced seminar on planning techniques.  Indeed, our students had specifically asked to hear from experienced practitioners on special needs trusts, and with the help of the National Elder Law Foundation we were able to host a nationally known speaker to do just that. Renee Lovelace and Dickinson Law Students

Renée (third from the left, in blue) helped our students identify appropriate uses of pooled trusts, such as where the beneficiary's needs could be uniquely well-served by a trustee who is familiar with the challenges sometimes encountered in managing assets on behalf of  persons with disabilities.

While the special needs beneficiary may be frustrated by a manager's handling of "his" (or "her") money, sometimes it is the family that has questions about application of the law. Recently I was reading a New Jersey case decision, where a family was challenging the state's attempt to seek reimbursement for medical and care expenses expended by the state, following the death of their disabled daughter.  At the core of the dispute was what appeared to be a misunderstanding on the part of the family about the nature of their daughter's special needs trust, which they were describing as a pooled trust.  The court pointed out, that in the absence of a nonprofit manager, the trust could not be deemed a (d)(4)(C) trust or "pooled" trust, that would have allowed assets remaining after the death of the daughter to stay in the trust for the benefit of other disabled persons, rather than be subject to the state's reimbursement claim.

Thus, the case is a reminder that pooled trusts, properly created and managed are usually drafted as special needs trusts (SNTs).  However, not all SNTs are pooled trusts.  Or as Renée explains so well in her thorough guidebook:

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February 27, 2015 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Another Movie for Our List

The movie, Still Alice, has been released.  Starring Julianne Moore in the role of the lead character, the movie is based on the book by the same name written by Lisa Genova. The book and movie are about a professor who has early onset Alzheimer's. The synopsis from the movie's website describes the movie this way:

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

 

February 26, 2015 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Moments of Lucidity vs. Mental Capacity

On Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the 7th Annual Conference of the Pennsylvania  Association of Elder Law Attorneys (PAELA), to give a presentation with Dr. Claire Flaherty, a Penn State Hershey Medical Center neuropsychologist with special expertise in frontal and temporal lobe impairments, on "Dementia Diagnosis and the Law."  February Snow 2015

Another speaker, Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist with long-experience in behavioral health, brain injury and dementia care, spoke on Sunday. 

It was one of the rare times when I've been glad to be "snowed in" at a conference, as that kept me in place for both days of the presentations, rather than rushing home to work on some other task. 

One of the topics that was discussed by attendees over the two days was the question of whether testimony by witnesses who observe "moments of lucidity" -- standing alone -- is proper support for a finding of "legal capacity." Context is important, of course, as both common law and statutory law increasingly recognize that capacity should be evaluated in terms of specific transactions. 

My own takeaway from the health care experts was the need for some measure of caution in this regard.  With many forms of dementia, especially at the early stages, unrecognized impairment of judgment may precede recognized impairment of memory.  In other words, as I understand it, we may spend too much time being impressed by a client's ability to remember who is the president or the names of their children, and too little time asking more probing questions.  Deeper inquiry may reveal or ameliorate concerns about judgment, including an individual's current abilities to make decisions, make reasonable, rational connections in formulating or following a plan, and related skills such as empathy or self-awareness.

Along this same line, it is a good time to remind readers that there are three useful handbooks on "Assessment of Older Adults With Diminished Capacity," one directed to lawyers, one to psychologists, and one for judges, that were created by experienced professionals working as a team on behalf of the American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association (APA).  Individual copies can be downloaded without cost from the APA website.  

February 23, 2015 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Programs/CLEs, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Novel featuring octagenarian sleuth with dementia wins UK's Costa Prize

Via The Independent:

Emma Healey’s debut book about an octogenarian sleuth with dementia, which sparked a frenzied bidding war among publishers, has been named best first novel at the Costa Book Awards.  Elizabeth is Missing, which was inspired by the author’s grandmothers, will now compete to be named Costa Book of the Year later this month with the four other category winners.  Ms Healey, who wrote the book over five years including during lunch breaks while she worked at a London art gallery, said: “I am amazed; I can’t quite believe it.”  The book has been compared to Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and has been memorably dubbed “Gone Gran” in reference to the thriller Gone Girl.  “I love the reference,” Ms Healey said. “Though I have to keep pointing out there are no car chases or gory murders, this detective is in her 80s.”

Source/more:  The Independent

Get the book from Amazon.

January 8, 2015 in Books | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Looking for a Movie or Book this Season? Don't Shy Away From These....

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Frank Bruni recalls his own reluctance to confront the realities of Alzheimer's, offering a touching account of his own grandmother many years ago, whose condition caused him to turn away.  But as he also points out in his column, "Confronting an Ugly Killer," "the world is different now.  Much of the unwarranted shame surrounding Alzheimer's has lifted. People are examining it with new candor and empathy."

As evidence for his observation, he points to the latest movie, Still Alice, with Oscar buzz already starting for Julianne Moore's performance.

As further evidence, he lists the new documentary "Glenn Campbell: I'll Be Me" and a best selling, celebrated 2014 novel, "We Are Not Ourselves" by Matthew Tomas. 

December 19, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Text: "The Fundamentals of Elder Law: Cases & Materials" by O'Brien and Flannery

Professor Raymond O'Brien, Catholic University Law, and Associate Dean Michael Flannery, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, have collaborated on the latest new classroom text to hit my desk. Published by Foundation Press, "The Fundamentals of Elder Law: Cases and Materials" includes chapters on:

  • Elder Estate Planning
  • Transfer of  Wealth
  • Incapacity: Utilization of Powers and Surrogates
  • Health Care Decisions
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Social Security, Veterans and Railroad Benefits
  • Elder Housing Options
  • Payment Options for Elder Housing
  • Discrimination and Abuse

Plus, the authors have included text from several key uniform laws as appendices in their book, thus reducing student costs to purchase expensive supllements.  I especially appreciate their inclusion of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, given recent state legislative efforts to provide safeguards connected to use of POAs. 

By the way, I tried to link to this textbook on the West Academic website here.  No luck with searches by author or subject.  Is the book too new for the publishers to list? (I've had similar problems before with other title searches on the website, which strikes me as a problem; hopefully one that can be fixed.)

November 10, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review--Government Regulation in Excess?

Our friend and health law/elder law rock star, Marshall Kapp, sent me a note about a book review  he authored (thanks Marshall) that appears in The Gerontologist Advance Access.  The review is of the book, The Rule of  Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government by Phillip K. Howard.

You may be wondering why a blog for elderlawprofs is posting about laws and government regulations.  Three words: nursing home regulation. Although a subscription is required to read the full review, an excerpt is available for free, much of which I have reproduced here

The brilliant satirist Jonathan Swift said long ago, “Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.” (Brainy Quote, n.d.). Swift certainly did not intend that remark as a compliment to either laws or cobwebs. Nonetheless, almost all laws originate to accomplish some reasonably defensible public purpose, even though ... poorly drafted, inconsistently ... enforced, and perpetuated beyond ... their original justification ....             

In this latest project, Howard despairs that regulation in the United States has veered far from its proper function as a setter of boundaries or parameters within which individuals are empowered... (end of excerpt).

Since Marshall sent me a full copy of the book review, I can explain further what the abstract does not, how the author uses nursing home regulations as an example. Marshall describes this on page 1-2 of his review

One of the primary examples that author Howard utilizes throughout The Rule of Nobody to illustrate his constructive critique about the largely dysfunctional nature of the contemporary American regulatory situation is the overwhelmingly extensive and complex set of formal command and-control rules we have promulgated on the federal and state levels to govern the operation of nursing homes.

Marhsall offers a bit of history as to why we have so many laws and regulations for nursing homes and suggests that now is "the time to seriously contemplate smarter, rather than just bigger, regulation...." (review at page 2). He notes that the author provides examples of when the regulations don't end up benefitting the residents, with current regulations stifling innovation. (review at 3).  Marshall concludes his review with this summary

[T]he Rule of Nobody is noteworthy for the nation generally and for long-term care policy-makers particularly... Settling for being “in the ball park” is damning with faint praise, indeed. The only option for many vulnerable individuals is dependence on the benevolence of nursing home owners and workers and lawmakers’ careful guidance. Society owes them a system of oversight and influence that not only aspires to, but effectively achieves, a much loftier standard.

Another one to add to the reading list.

September 12, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Love Story Without a Happy Ending (But Not Without Hope)

Book by Meryl Cover Slow Dancing With A StrangerWashington Post writer Frederick Kunkle profiles Meryl Comer, author of "Slow Dancing With a Stranger," a new book that "offers an unflinching and intimate account about what it means to surrender one's career to care" for a loved one stricken with Alzhemier's.  In describing the  author and her book, he writes:

"Its a a love stsory without a happy ending, because the ending for Alzheimer's patients can seem more like endless twilight.  And it's a call to arms for caregivers such as Comer....

When Alzhemier's took hold, [her husband, chief of hematology and oncology at NIH, Harvey Gralnick] was a fit 56-year-old -- he ran six miles a day -- who dressed impeccably wearing the latest fashions beneath his lab coat.... For a time, he was able to mask his symptoms behind his reputation as a brilliant if eccentric scientist....

As  his condition worsened, Comer, too, gave up her career -- and she adds with a note of bitterness, her 'prime.' In her blunt-talking manner, she acknowledged that she did so not entirely out of devotion but because doctors told her more than once, wrongly, that the progress of her husband's disease would not be long.

Finances, too, were a factor.  It was almost impossible to find care that she felt would be satisfactory for her husband and yet affordable.  Her burden intensified even further when her mother, too, developed Alzheimer's; her mother now shares the same home with Comer and her husband."

The book is meant to make people mad -- and more realistic and focused -- about the need for solutions. The article quotes George Vradenburg, a co-founder with Comer of the nonprofit group USAgainstAlzheimer's, who hopes that Comer's book will stir conversations about a disease many prefer not to think about. "I hope America gets mad," Vradenburg is quoted as saying.

For more, see "Alzheimer's -- Thief and Killer," in the Washington Post.

 

September 1, 2014 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Book: The Law and Ethics of Dementia

The Law and Ethics of Dementia, co-edited by Israel Doron, Charles Foster and Jonathan Herring, recently released in hardback by Hart Publishing and available for e-readers in September, is definitely on my "must read" list.   Followers of this Blog will certainly recognize Issi Doron, from the University of Haifa, who has long exercised an international, comparative perspective on issues in ageing.  Professor Foster is a practicing barrister and a fellow at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, which is also the working home of prolificFoster, Herring and Doron on The Law and Ethics of Dementia writer and Law Professor Herring.

The book is organized into five parts, Medical Fundamentals, Ethical Perspectives, Legal Perspectives, Social Aspects, and Patient and Carer Perspectives. As part of the first section, physicians and researchers Amos Korczyn and Veronika Vakhapova co-author "Can Dementia be Prevented?" a question we all hope will be answered in the affirmative. Not surprisingly, given the title of the book, the section on ethical perspectives promises to be especially fascinating, offering multiple views on ethical components of decision making and care. To suggest the scope, Andrew McGee's chapter is on "Best Interest Determinations and Substituted Judgement," while Leah Rand and Mark Sheehan tackle the challenge of "Resource Allocation Issues in Dementia."

In the Social Aspects section, I notice that Syracuse Law Professor Nina Kohn has a chapter on "Voting and Political Participation," while Chinese (and University of Pennsylvania) health care scholar Ruijia Chen and colleagues address "Physical, Financial and Other Abuse."

With more than forty individual chapters and dozens of international writers, this book promises to be a key guide  for the future. 

August 5, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Cognitive Impairment, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Frolik & Kaplan: "Elder Law in a Nutshell" (6th Edition!)

It occurs to me that what I'm about to write here is a mini-review of a mini-book. Slightly  complicating this little task is the fact that I count both authors as friends and mentors.

The latest edition of Elder Law in a Nutshell by Professors Lawrence Frolik (University of Pittsburgh) and Richard Kaplan (University of Illinois) arrived on my desk earlier this month. (As Becky might remind us, both are definitely Elder Law's "rock stars.")  And as with fine wine, this book, now its 6th edition, becomes more valuable with age.  This is true even though achieving the right balance of simplicity and detail cannot be an easy task for authors in the intentionally brief "Nutshell" series.  Presented in the book are introductions to the following core topics:

  • Ethical Considerations in Dealing with Older Clients
  • Health Care Decision Making
  • Medicare and Medigap
  • Medicaid
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Nursing Homes, Board and Care Homes, and Assisted Living Facilities
  • Housing Alternatives & Options (including Reverse Mortgages)
  • Guardianship
  • Alternatives to Guardianship (including Powers of Attorneys, Joint Accounts and Revocable Trusts)
  • Social Security Benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Veterans' Benefits
  • Pension Plans
  • Age Discrimination in Employment
  • Elder Abuse and Neglect

The authors describe their anticipated audience, including "lawyers and law students needing an overview of some particular subject, social workers, certain medical personnel, gerontologists, retirement planners and the like."  Curiously, they don't mention potential clients, including family members of older persons.  I suspect the book can and does assist prospective clients in thinking about when and why an "elder law specialist" would be an appropriate choice for consultation.  This book is a very good starting place.

What's missing from the overview?  Not a lot, although I find it interesting that despite solid coverage of the basics of Medicaid, and even though it is unrealistic to expect exhaustive coverage in a mini-book, the authors do not hint at the bread and butter of many elder law specialists, i.e., Medicaid Planning.  Thus, there's little mention of some of the more cutting edge (and therefore potentially controversial) planning techniques used to create Medicaid eligibility for an individual's long-term care while also preserving assets that otherwise would have to be spent down. 

Modern approaches, depending on the state, may range from the simple, such as permitted use of assets to purchase a better replacement auto, to more complex planning, as in states that permit purchase of spousal annuities or use of promissory notes, allow modest half-a-loaf gifting, or recognize spousal refusal.  Even though the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 succeeded in restricting assets transfers to non-spouse family members, families, especially if there is a community spouse, may still have viable options.  Without appropriate planning the community spouse, particularly a younger spouse, may be in a tough spot if forced to spend down to the "maximum" permitted to be retained, currently less than $120,000 (in, for example, Pennsylvania).  See, for example, a thoughtful discussion of planning options, written by Elder Law practitioners Julian Gray and Frank Petrich.    

Perhaps the Nutshell omission is a reflection of the unease some who teach Elder Law may feel about the public impact of private Medicaid planning?  

May 14, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Medicaid, Medicare, Property Management, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another Book Recommendation: "The Banana Lady & Other Stories...."

Another book recommendation, courtesy of my Penn State colleague, neuropsychologist Claire Flaherty.  The book is "The Banana Lady and Other Stories of Curious Behavior and Speech," by Andrew Kurtisz  and first published in 2006.  Professor Flaherty accompanied this recommendation with the note that the book presents "truth is stranger than fiction" tales of changes in personality, behaviors and relationships, including the gradual loss of language that can occur even in one's "middle" ages. 

The author's bio is also interesting:

Dr. Andrew Kertesz is professor of Neurology in the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences at the University of Western Ontario. He is Director of Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Research Centre at St. Joseph's Health Care London and former Chief of the Department of Neurology. He graduated from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, studied neurology in Toronto, and behavioral neurology in Boston. His publications deal with the classification, localization and recovery in aphasia, as well as alexia, apraxia, visual agnosia and dementia. His books include Aphasia and Associated Disorders by Grune and Stratton (1979), Localization and Neuroimaging in Neuropsychology by Academic press (1994), and his most recent book, co-authored by Dr. David Munoz, is entitled, Pick's Disease and Pick Complex by Wiley-Liss Inc. (1998). Recent research projects are the experimental treatment of Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, vascular dementia, primary progressive aphasia, and frontotemoral dementia. He has standardized a Frontal Behavioral Inventory for the diagnosis of Frontotemporal dementia and is active in clinical trials.

Thanks, Claire, for helping to keep our summer reading lists well filled. 

April 30, 2014 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"What If It's Not Alzheimer's?"

My Penn State colleague from Hershey Medical Center, Dr. Claire Flaherty, has shared with me a another fascinating resource, "What If It's Not Alzheimer's?: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia," by Gary Radin and Lisa Radin. 

The first chapter provides "The ABCs of Neurodegenerative Dementias," including frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Lewy Body Dementia, vascular dementia, as well as Alzheimer's Disease.  Key chapters including "finding the A Team" of specialists, and a guide to therapeutic interventions. 

The book reminds us that with some forms of dementia, particularly early onset dementias such as FTD, changes in personality or executive function may be the first signs, and easily misunderstood.  For example, the individual may manifest:

  • hypersexuality, including promiscuous sexual encounters with strangers; or
  • apathy or indifference to grooming and hygiene; or  
  • "hyperorality" with disinhibited consumption of large amounts of food; or
  • poor judgment with a lack of sense of consequences, sometimes coupled with poor impulse control

One chapter is unique, emphasizing the potential importance, after death, of an autopsy of the brain, and thus providing families with a way to contribute to biomedical research and the hope for better answers in the future.

April 24, 2014 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Justice John Paul Stevens: Not So Retiring in Retirement, with A New Book

Former Supreme Court John Paul Stevens celebrated his 94th birthday on Sunday, April 20, in a rather unique way, appearing on ABC's This Week with an interview by George Stephanopoulos. And it was not exactly a soft ball interview, inspired in part by the Justice's bold new book Six Amendments:  How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.   To whet your appetite, here is a bit from the prologue:

"In the following pages I propose six amendments to the Constitution; the first four would nullify judge-made rules, the fifth would expedite the demise of the death penalty, and the sixth would confine the coverage of the Second Amendment to the area intended by its authors. The importance of reexamining some of these rules is already the subject of widespread public debate, but others have not received either the attention or the criticism that is warranted."

Here's a link to excerpts from the interview on ABC, and here's a link to additional excerpts offered by ABC from the book.   Happy Birthday, Mr. Justice!

April 20, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is There an "Age War" Looming?

The title of a piece in the April 2014 issue of AARP Bulletin, "Dispatches from the Battle of the Ages," suggests that we're already in a battle between older and younger people, with the article detailing media reports about battlelines on jobs, funding for federal benefit programs, health care costs, and caregiving obligations. 

"Alarmists use ... statistics to paint a portrait of generational warfare.  But are they mounting that picture in the wrong frame?  To paraphrase a slogan from the 60's peace movement, 'Suppose they gave a generational war and nobody came?'"

The article suggests an interesting resource, Paul Taylor's book (released in March), The Next America. 

"Taylor [executive vice president of special projects at the Pew Research Center in Washington D.C.] and his Pew Colleagues conducted opinion surveys and pored over decades of demographic data.  Yes, there is a palpable anxiety about the lingering recession and long-term problems associated with entitlements, plus the runaway national debt.  Yet Taylor notes this anger transcends age barriers."

At times I do hear a strong resentment among students, both at the college level and in law school, and yet at the same time, I am also impressed by how many students choose to take courses and look for jobs in fields that will serve older adults.  Is there a "war" -- or is it more of a struggle to find firm footing on ground that is ever shifting? 

April 20, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hot Book: 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's

I spent most of our recent spring break in Arizona with my parents and sister (and trying to thaw my frozen bones).  I had time to visit friends, some I haven't seen in decades, and often I was  tempted to give a rueful chuckle.  We're all in the same age range -- and several of us are searching for ways to help aging parents.  With friends who have a parent with dementia, as soon as they find out that much of my work now focuses on "elder law," I would get what I've come to think of as "the question."

What's the question?  "Is it inevitable that I too will develop dementia?"  Of course, I'm a  law professor, not a doctor.  My friends are asking the wrong person.

But, then I noticed that several of my friends were reading the same book.  The book is "100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss," by  Jean Carper, a well-respected medical journalist.  One friend loaned me a copy.  It was first published in 2010.  I asked friends what they liked about the book, and more than one mentioned the "single idea" format for chapters, short enough to keep the reader on task, while sufficiently detailed to convince the reader why that "tip" just might make sense.

Some of the 100 "things" are, I hope, mostly an affirmation of common sense, such as Chapter 17's "Count Calories" and Chapter 20's "Control Bad Cholesterol."  Occasionally a chapter strikes me as a bit trendy, such as the admonition in Chapter 22 to "Go Crazy For Cinnamon."  But quite a few topics and explanations were either surprising, intriguing, or both, including Chapter 3's recommendation to "Check Out Your Ankle."  The author explains how low blood flow in your foot, measurable by an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test, can point to looming troubles for the brain.  

Happy reading and good luck adapting the tips to your life.  Remember, with 100 recommendations to read, evaluate, and, as appropriate,  embrace, it doesn't hurt to start "young." 

March 19, 2014 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Power of the Personal Story in Talking about Aging

Peter Strauss, Co-Director of the Elder Law Clinic at New York Law School, leads off his school's recent Law Review symposium by reminding us of a powerful early piece published in 1983 by Marion Roach.  She recounted the first moments when she realized her mother her mother "might be going mad."  She went on to explore her mother's Alzheimer's and the family's struggle in her well-regarded memoir, Another Name for Madness.

Professor Strauss' Introduction opens the symposium issue on the theme of Freedom of Choice at the End of Life: Patients' Rights in a Shifting Legal and Political Landscape.  Videos of the presentations are available here.    

February 12, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Cognitive Impairment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

California Dreamin' & Estate Planning for Care Dependent Persons

Southern California estate planning attorneys Bradley Erdosi and Laura Bromlow offer an interesting list of "Essential Things Everyone Should Know About Estate Planning, Probate and Elder Law," for the January 2014 issue of Orange County Lawyer.  The full article is available to bar association members, and is also available on Westlaw.

Among the items, is the caution that "An Intended Beneficiary May Never See a Dime," a warning that special efforts -- and certification by an "independent attorney" -- may be needed to protect a bequest or other covered donative transfer to a caregiver from disqualification arising from a statutory presumption.  Complying with California's rules will also help to protect the drafting attorney against an allegation of malpractice.  They explain:

"California Probate Code section 21380 (Lexis 2011) outlines the presumption of fraud and undue influence regarding donative transfers to certain people, including a “care custodian” of a dependent adult. Therefore, the gift to your dear friend will be presumed to be the result of fraud or undue influence. However, the drafting attorney can overturn this presumption by following certain steps outlined in California Probate Code section 21384 (Lexis 2011). In completing a Certificate of Independent Review, the certifying attorney must be an “independent attorney” (as defined by the statute) and: (1) counsel the client-transferor, including the nature and consequence of a transfer to the potentially disqualified person, and (2) determine that the intended transfer is not the result of fraud or undue influence. If the above requirements are satisfied, the attorney then signs and delivers to the client a 'Certificate of Independent Review,' the language of which is set forth in section 21384."

February 11, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Elder Law: Practice, Policy and Problems, by Nina Kohn

Kohn on Elder LawI suspect that Professor Nina Kohn (Syracuse, and a recent visitor at Maine) is having one of those "phone book" moments this week (as when Steve Martin's movie character  jumps in excitement to receive the new phone book, because he's now "in print").  Her new casebook, Elder Law: Practice, Policy and Problems, published by Aspen, is now "in print" and a copy arrived on my desk this week. 

I have to admit, a bit ruefully, especially to my co-writers on this blog (who each have great classroom texts), that I'm not always faithful in my affections for casebooks.  I probably change texts more often than the average professor when teaching Elder Law courses, in part because I find new editions invigorating to read and use in teaching classes in this rapidly changing field.  Nina Kohn

Thus, I've already done a scan of Nina's new book, and it is fun to see her choice of cases, policy materials and (best of all), her incorporation of problems and exercises in each chapter.  The book also appears to be "efficient" as it frequently incorporates rules and statutes into the text in "original" form, thus reducing the cost to students for statutory supplements. 

I particularly like her use of several sample documents, such as a health care proxy and an advance health care directive, to give opportunities for readers to compare and contrast language.  The book also does not shy away from ethical and practical concerns connected to Medicaid planning. For example, I'm looking forward to a careful read of her section on spousal refusal.  She includes materials on cutting edge topics, such as grandparent rights and obligations, and the potential distinction between palliative care and hospice. 

Elder Law profs are an amazingly busy group of folks -- just read Kim Dayton's plans for UNretirement on this blog this week if you have any doubt -- and I'm in awe of the prolific efforts of colleagues in this field. 

January 9, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)