Monday, January 25, 2016

Science, Elder Law and Genetic Counseling...

I think I might like winter better, if it always happened "conveniently" and with plenty of notice, as did Saturday's snow in Pennsylvania.  For once, I was prepared to be at home, with a stack of good reading materials for catching up when the joys of house-cleaning and snow shoveling faded. 

I am intrigued by the Fall 2015 issue of the NAELA Journal that focuses on how advances in genetic testing and medicine may be reflected in the roles of lawyers who specialize in elder and special needs counseling.  A leading article in the issue introduces the three primary uses of modern genetic testing -- for diagnosis of disease, for determination of carrier status, and for predictive testing -- while reminding us there are limits to each function.  In looking at age-related issues, the authors note:

 

Genetic testing is beginning to reveal information regarding susceptibilities to the dis­eases associated with old age: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and cancer. Genetic test results showing a higher risk of such diseases can result in a cascade of conse­quences. Francis Collins, mentioned at the beginning of this article, responded to his test results thoughtfully by making lifestyle changes to reduce the probability that the increased genetic risk would be expressed in actual disease. It is important to note that, for some con­ditions, lifestyle factors’ influence on disease risk is understood; however, for many of the conditions that affect seniors, this influence is not yet known.

 

Other reactions to a high-risk test result may be more aggressive than diet and exer­cise changes. A well-publicized example is Angelina Jolie’s bilateral mastectomy. She was cancer-free but learned that she carries a BRCA1 mutation, which increases her lifetime risk for breast and ovarian cancer. She chose to undergo prophylactic mastectomy to reduce her breast cancer risk, whereas other women choose to increase breast cancer surveillance, such as undergoing more mammograms and breast MRIs. Both options are available to women who carry a BRCA1/2 mutation.

 

Will those found to be at elevated risk for more complex conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease make premature life choices, such as early retirement or mar­riage, based on perceived risk? Earlier in this article it is explained that an individual’s geno­type rarely determines his or her medical destiny. For example, many people with a higher genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease will not actually develop it, while many with no apparent higher genetic risk will. Is the risk that members of the general public will misunderstand and overreact to the results of a genetic test sufficient reason to prevent them from obtaining the information gleaned from such a test? Should we be ensuring that those undergoing genetic testing are aware of its benefits and limitations through individualized genetic counseling? This, of course, presents its own challenges of access and availability.

In reading this, it seems likely that lawyers may encounter complicated issues of confidentiality, especially when counseling "partnered" clients, while also increasing the significance of long-range financial planning and assets management.  

For more, read Genetic Testing and Counseling Primer for Elder Law and Special Needs Planning Attorneys, by CELA Gregory Wilcox  and Rachel Koff, Licensed Certified Genetic Counselor. 

January 25, 2016 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Retirement, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Filial Friday: South Korea Recognizes "Filial Duty Contracts"

In South Korea, "filial duty" is apparently a hot topic, as reflected by a recent Korean Supreme Court ruling and a public survey.  And it is more than a theoretical concept or moral obligation, with "contract" law principles now coming into play.  As reported in English by the Korea Herald, published on December 30, 2015:

More than 75 percent of South Koreans surveyed by a local pollster think “filial duty contracts” -- a legal document that makes it mandatory for all grown children to financially and emotionally care for their aged parents -- are necessary should they receive any gifts such as real estate or stocks from them.



The survey results were released two days after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of an elderly father who filed a suit against his son, who, in spite of signing a filial duty contract, did not care for his ill mother as promised after receiving a personal estate. The court acknowledged the legality of the document and ruled the son must return the property to his father, as the property was gifted in exchange for his support.

Although "filial duty" has long been considered an important, traditional value in Korea, "the nation's changing family structure" and high costs for housing and education apparently have made it more difficult for elderly Koreans to rely on their children for voluntary care.  The survey, of 567 Koreans, showed strong support for greater enforcement of "filial duty contracts."  

Under the current law, a donor may rescind a gift contract if the recipient committed an act of crime against the donor, or if “the beneficiary is obliged to support the donor but does not do so.” However, the law also states that rescinding a gift contract does not have any effect once the gift has already been given to the beneficiary.

For more details, including a report on a pending bill that would give "Korean parents the right to sue their children in case of mistreatment and to ask them to return any gifts," read "77% of South Koreans See Need for 'Filial Duty Contracts.'" 

January 22, 2016 in Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, International, Property Management, Retirement, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ageism in Social Media?

I recently ran into an article published in December of 2015 that I thought was interesting.  Fighting Ageism in the Twitter Era (Getting Old Isn't All That Bad) was published in the Arizona Republic/New America Media.  The December article followed up a late November opinion piece titled, Valdez: Getting old isn't all that bad by Linda Valdez that opened with this:

The baby boomers, AKA the nation’s silver tsunami, had better pay as much attention to changing attitudes about aging as they did to shaking up all those previous social norms.

In our culture, old things get replaced with something nice and new. Like the latest smart phone.

Apply the concept to people, and it’s called ageism.

It’s as current as Twitter.

A team of researchers at Oregon State University took a look at tweets about people with Alzheimer’s disease and found ridicule, stigma and stereotypes.

In the December article, the author, reporting on the Gerontological Society of America's annual scientific meeting in November, was in attendance as a Journalist in Aging Fellowship.  After generally reviewing topics covered in the conference, the author notes that the Boomers wish to age in place, yet many may not be physically able to do so and blame themselves for their own inability to do so.  Enter negative thoughts about aging:

Meanwhile, society does its best to accent the negative.

Asked to characterize the aging, some people recorded during on-the-street interviews dredged up cliches about spry retirees on vacation, but most talked about decline, disease, dependency.

“Society isn’t betting on them,” said one man.

These interviews were done as a result of a project with 8 of the national aging organizations, who were looking for metaphors for aging because how we look at something is crucial to how we apply information about it.  The article concludes

[T]he way information is framed has an impact on how people use the information, which should come as no surprise to those who reframed cultural norms about race, gender, sex, the environment and entertainment.

The baby boomers have a lot at stake, and that includes [the author] me. I’m no fan of euphemisms, but I’m all for promoting a fine-wine view of life. It should get better with age. We should feel better about aging.

If some creative wordsmithing and mass marketing helps our society recognize that aging doesn’t diminish value or humanity, it would be a real contribution to our collective understanding of who we boomers are.

Turning to the researchers at Oregon State U who did the analysis of tweets, their article, Portrayal of Alzheimer's Disease on Twitter is available in volume 55 of the Gerontologist, the publication of the Gerontological Society of America.

January 15, 2016 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Do Lawyers "Hear" their Older Clients?

Professor Debra Lyn Bassett at Southwestern Law School has an interesting new article, Silencing Our Elders, in a recent issue of the Nevada Law Journal.  She begins:

We do not think much about silence, perhaps especially in law school and as lawyers. In the law, we tend to ignore silence, typically referring expressly to silence in one of two contexts: (1) the right to remain silent (in the criminal law context) and (2) silence as constituting consent (in the contract law context).  Silence is an overlooked area with tremendous potential for facilitating the practice of law and helping clients.

From this broad introduction to the potential significance of silence, in the second half of her article Professor Bassett focuses more specifically on older clients, and the subtle ways in which "age bias" can influence an attorney-client relationship. For example, she writes:

When lawyers quickly fill in silences by asking additional questions, one risk is that the lawyer’s questions may reflect inaccurate assumptions or even stereotypes. Suppose, for example, that a client seeks legal advice about drafting a will, and the client briefly stops talking. Uncomfortable with the silence, the lawyer rushes in to fill that silence by asking, “Do you want your children to receive everything?” That question reflects an assumption—a common assumption, but an assumption nonetheless—that parents always want to bequeath everything to their children. Perhaps the client indeed does want to leave everything to his or her children, but the lawyer’s preemptive question may cause the client to feel uncomfortable expressing a contrary desire.

Good fuel for discussion in a variety of courses.  

My thanks to Dickinson Law Professor Laurel Terry for sending the link to this article.

January 14, 2016 in Consumer Information, Discrimination, Retirement, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Microaggressions and Elders

I was reading recently about microaggressions and was interested in this article in Huffington Post/ Post 50 on microaggressions as it pertains to elders.  10 Microaggressions Older People Will Recognize Immediately explains that microaggressions are "the small everyday slights (intended or otherwise) that harbor an underlying attitude of racism, sexism or homophobia -- have been making the rounds of college campuses and workplaces."  The article explains that microaggressions also occur against elders and need to be included in the national discussion.  The article provides 10 examples of microaggressions, including tone of voice, unflattering language and commercials, jokes about elders' lack of technology skills, and professionals talking to the child instead of the elder.

Having students list examples of such microaggressions could be an interesting exercise for a discussion about ageism.

December 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Other | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

San Diego Joins Other Major Cities in Offering LGBT Seniors a Lower-Cost Housing Option

As reported in the San Diego Tribune, Housing for Gay Seniors Coming to San Diego

A local nonprofit is preparing to build San Diego’:s first low-income apartment complex geared for senior citizens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. When the 76-unit complex opens in North Park, San Diego will join Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco as cities that provide this kind of housing.

 

Such housing is considered crucial because members of the LGBT community often feel unwelcome in ordinary senior complexes, where the older residents tend to be less open to alternative lifestyles.

 

“The people who will live here paved the way for younger LGBT generations, and many of them are forced back into the closet in traditional senior communities because of a lack of acceptance,” said Delores Jacobs, chief executive of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.

 

The $27 million complex will be open to all seniors, but the nonprofit building it — Community HousingWorks — plans to create a welcoming environment for LGBT seniors that will encourage them to move in, including on-site supportive services coordinated by the local LGBT Community Center.

December 16, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Importance of Contracts in Age Discrimination Cases

As I prepare to teach both Contracts and Elder Law in the spring semester of 2016, I'm reminded by a recent ruling of why I added Contracts to my teaching package a few years ago.  Protection of older persons often depends on how contracts are written, whether we are talking about insurance, health care, nursing home admissions, or age discrimination. 

On the latter point, the Supreme Court of North Dakota recently affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer on a claim by an employee that her dismissal violated the age discrimination rules under the state's Human Rights Act, pointing to the fact that the employee's termination was consistent with her employment contract as an at-will employee.  The court ruled:

[The employer] Altru provided evidence in support of its summary judgment motion that [the employee] Yahna was a vascular ultrasound technologist and was required to take on-call responsibilities because she was not a supervisor or manager. Although Yahna claims she retained her supervisor and quality assurance responsibilities after Altru restructured the ultrasound department and when she was terminated, her argument ignores the effect of Altru's restructured ultrasound departments. We decline to construe the Human Rights Act to preclude an entity from restructuring its business and altering employee job responsibilities. Yahna's conclusory assertions about her understanding or belief regarding her job responsibilities after the restructuring do not raise a disputed factual issue that she refused to perform the on-call requirements for a vascular technologist at the time she was terminated. Yahna's speculation about her job position is not sufficient to defeat Altru's motion for summary judgment and she has not provided competent evidence to raise a factual issue that she was not a vascular technologist when she was terminated and that she was treated differently than other vascular technologists in Altru's restructured ultrasound department. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Yahna, the evidence does not raise an inference that she was discharged because of her age; rather, she was terminated because she refused to be available for on-call responsibilities required for vascular technologists after Altru restructured the ultrasound department.

For the full opinion, see Yahna v. Altru Health System, 2015 ND 275, published December 1, 2015.

December 8, 2015 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Ethical Issues, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nudging an Older Co-Worker to Retire? Think Twice....

The Washington Post's magazine section runs a Work Advice column by Karla Miller.  A recent question was intriguing:

As a longtime colleague of Susan’s, I’ve been asked by her boss to feel out whether she really means to leave the office only if “taken out in an ambulance or a coffin” (the boss’s words). I agree that it is probably time for her to retire (she is financially well off), but I also know she gets great satisfaction from her work. Should I broach the subject with Susan as a caring co-worker?

The response urges caution in participating in the employer's plan, observing bluntly "that smells like a steaming heap of age discrimination."

For the full discussion, See @Work Advice: Putting the Old, Gray Co-Worker Out to Pasture.

November 17, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Federal Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

DOJ Settlement vs. CCRC

The Department of Justice announced a $255,000 settlement vs. a CCRC.  United States Obtains $255,000 Settlement of Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Continuing Care Retirement Community in Lincolnshire, Illinois explains a proposed settlement (the settlement has to be approved by the court).  The press release explains that this settlement resolves "allegations that the owners and managers of a continuing care retirement community known as Sedgebrook violated the Fair Housing Act by instituting policies and maintaining practices that discriminated against residents with disabilities at the facility, which is located in Lincolnshire, Illinois..."

The complaint alleges that since 2011, Sedgebrook has instituted a series of policies that prohibited, and then limited, residents’ ability to dine in the communal dining rooms of the independent living wing of the facility if they required assistance eating due to a disability.  Additionally, the complaint alleges that Sedgebrook maintained a policy prohibiting residents of the independent living wing from hiring live-in caregivers and refused to grant reasonable accommodations to that policy that would have allowed Sedgebrook residents with disabilities to use and enjoy their apartments.

As part of the settlement, the CCRC "will appoint a Fair Housing Act compliance officer and will implement a new dining and events policy, a new policy applicable to residents’ private employment of caregivers, and a new reasonable accommodation policy.  Additionally ... the company that manages Sedgebrook and is a named defendant in the lawsuit, will take steps to implement similar policies at the over 100 independent living and continuing care retirement communities it owns or manages across the country."

The complaint and consent order are available for download here.

October 14, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Federal Cases, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Student Writing Competition on Disability Law: Entries Due by January 15, 2016

Thomas Jefferson School of Law is hosting its second annual student writing competition focusing on disability law.  The Crane Writing Competition, named in honor of a Thomas Jefferson alum, Jameson Crane III, seeks to encourage student scholarship at the intersection of law and medicine, or law and social services.  A central purpose is to further development of legal rights and protections, and improve the lives of those with disabilities.

Who can enter?  The competition is open to currently enrolled law students, medical students and doctoral candidates in related fields, who attend an accredited graduate program of study in the U.S. 

Deadline for entries?  January 15, 2016 (by midnight, Pacific Standard Time) via electronic submission.  For details see the competition website at Thomas Jefferson School of Law: http://www.tjsl.edu/cranewritingcompetition

What will be your topic? The competition accepts papers on a wide range of topics related to disability law, including legal issues arising from employment, government services and programs, public accommodations, education, higher education, housing and health care.  This should integrate well with students currently taking or who have recently completed a seminar course, thus allowing that all important "double value" for good papers.

Prizes include cash ($1,500 to first place; $1,000 for each of two second place winners), plus potential publication.

My thanks to Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp for sharing news of this year's competition.  She is coordinating the competition and you can send questions directly to Susan. 

September 28, 2015 in Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Ethical Issues, Grant Deadlines/Awards, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Seniors Who Cannot Make Ends Meet -- UCLA Documents "The Hidden Poor"

UCLA's Center for Health Policy Research has issued its August 2015 report on "The Hidden Poor," using county-by-county data to demonstrate that "federal" definitions of poverty are not a sufficient measure of true poverty for seniors.  What are the "hidden poor?"  The UCLA report explains:  "The Hidden Poor are defined as those who have incomes above 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but who do not have enough income to make ends meet as calculated by the Elder Index."

A recent article in the Sacramento Bee highlights key components of the analysis: 

More than 300,000 elderly Californians are officially poor, as measured by the federal government, but their numbers triple to more than 1 million when the “hidden poor” are counted, according to a new study from UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research.

 

National poverty guidelines say that for a single elderly adult living alone, the poverty line is $10,890 a year, but UCLA’s “elder index” puts it at $23,364 in California.

 

Those “hidden poor” Californians over 65 tend to be Latino or black. Their greatest concentrations are found in rural counties with overall low income levels, topped by Imperial County, where more than 40 percent of the elderly are the hidden poor....

 

The study said population groups with especially large proportions of the hidden poor include grandparents raising grandchildren, elderly with adult children living at home, and single elders.

Accurate measurements of poverty are core to planning of resources for any age group, including seniors.  How does your state account for needy seniors? 

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article32941743.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#storylink=cpy

September 2, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Housing, Medicaid, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Register Now: Webinar on Balancing Protection and Self-Determination

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC),  the ABA  and the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities announce an upcoming webinar on September 22, 2015 from 2-3:30 edt.  According to the website,

Research shows that empowering individuals to actively participate in personal decision making improves life outcomes and can reduce the risk of abuse and exploitation.  There is a risk of abuse and exploitation in all models of decision making for persons with differing abilities. An overly protective response to situations where a person with varying levels of capacity may be at risk can stifle self-determination and empowerment. Protection needs to be carefully balanced with protecting human and constitutional rights. Adults have a basic right to make choices, good or bad, and determine the course of their lives. An overly aggressive, or inappropriate protective response to limited capacity can itself be a form of abuse. This session will talk about recognizing the signs and signals of abuse, neglect (self-neglect) and exploitation, tools to maximize communication with persons with differing abilities, and promoting self-determination and choice through supported approaches that mitigate against risk and empower individuals. The session will explore the application of the Supported Decision Making model to assist persons in making choices, increase access to positive life outcomes, and reduce the risk of harm.

The webinar is free. To register click here.

September 2, 2015 in Cognitive Impairment, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Health Care/Long Term Care, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Subtle Messages in Webinar on "Managing" the Aging Academic Workforce?

An interesting approach to the topic of aging faculties in higher education recently came across my virtual desk in the form of an advertisement for an upcoming webinar (with an interesting price tag to match).  The title of the program is "Managing and Supporting an Aging Workforce," offered by Academic Impressions (a company I'm not familiar with) on November 15, 2015 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EST. 

The brochure advises "Given the nature of this topic, this online training is appropriate for human resources professionals, department chairs, deans, and senior administrators who deal with faculty and personnel issues."

Here's the description, which strikes me as charting a careful approach to helping (encouraging?) older faculty members make the decision to retire, without running afoul of age discrimination laws.

Experienced academic and administrative employees are the pillars for many institutions in higher education. However, with many faculty and staff members working well into their 60’s and 70’s, administrators face the challenge of supporting an aging workforce while having the appropriate policies and procedures in place.

Learn how to better balance the interests of your employees with the needs of your institution. This webcast will cover:

  • Laws governing discrimination and how to remain in compliance
  • Appropriate steps for dealing with diminishing capabilities
  • Performance reviews, policies, and procedures

August 25, 2015 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Retirement, State Statutes/Regulations, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

2015 National Aging & Law Conference

The National Aging & Law Conference is scheduled for October 29-30, 2015 at the Hilton Arlington, Arlington, VA. A number of ABA commissions and divisions are sponsors of this conference including the Commission on Legal Problems of the Elderly, the Coordinating Committee on Veterans Benefits & Services, the Senior Lawyers Division and the Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section.  The website describes the conference

The 2015 National Aging and Law Conference (NALC) will bring together substantive law, policy, and legal service development and delivery practitioners from across the country.  The program will include sessions on Medicare, Medicaid, guardianship, elder abuse, legal ethics, legal service program development and delivery, consumer law, income security, and other issues.

The 2015 National Aging and Law Conference marks the second year that this conference has been hosted by the American Bar Association. This year’s agenda will include 24 workshops and 4 plenary sessions on key topics in health care, income security, elder abuse, alternatives to guardianship, consumer law, and  legal service development and delivery.  The focus of the agenda is on issues impacting law to moderate income Americans age 60 and over and the front line advocates that serve them. 

The agenda is available here. To register, click here.  Early bird registration ends August 28, 2015.

               

August 16, 2015 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Medicaid, Medicare, Programs/CLEs, Social Security, Veterans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Borchard Center Announces 2015-16 "Law and Aging Fellows"

Mary Jane Ciccarello, co-director of the Borchard  Center on Law and Aging, recently sent us the latest news on the fellowships announced for the 2015-16 grant year.  There is strong competition for these key sources of funding for recent law school graduates to engage in new or expanded initiatives in law and aging.  The new fellows include: 

  • Krista Granen, a 2015 University of California-Hastings graduate, who will partner with Bay Area Legal Aid in San Francisco to implement a multi-faceted project to provide direct services, establish a mobile “pop-up” clinic to accommodate seniors’ physical and capacity based impairments, and promulgate resource materials in the intersectional areas of consumer protection and Social Security. Her project will promote economic security for low-income seniors residing in Santa Clara County, a county that simultaneously experiences extreme class stratification and a dearth of necessary legal services. 
 
  • Jennifer Kye, a 2014 UVA graduate, at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, who will implement a three-part project focused on increasing vulnerable seniors’ access to Medicaid home and community-based services. Her project will include: (1) systemic advocacy at the state level to expand the availability and improve the delivery of these critically needed home-based services; (2) development of a self-help manual that will allow seniors to advocate for themselves in accessing services in their own homes; and (3) direct representation of low-income older adults in obtaining and keeping home-based services and supports.

 

  • Stephanie Ridella Vittandsm, a 2014 Chicago-Kent graduate, who will continue her work at the Chicago Center for Disability and Elder Law, advocating for low-income seniors in housing matters, including eviction defense, public housing voucher termination defense, and representing seniors evicting tenants or family members from their homes. By prioritizing time-sensitive housing cases and conducting expedited intake interviews, she can continue to intervene in emergency housing cases.  She will continue to administer the Pro Se Guardianship Help Desk, which provides assistance to petitioners seeking guardianship over family members.   

 

  • Shana Wynn, a 22015 graduate of North Carolina Central Law School, who joins Justice in Aging (formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center) and the Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) in Washington, DC.  Ms. Wynn will work closely with Justice in Aging attorneys to formulate policy recommendations to improve the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) representative payee program for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients and Social Security beneficiaries. Ms. Wynn will partner with NLSP to provide pro bono services to low-income seniors and secure access to healthcare and public benefits such as SSI. The primary goal of the project is to identify and address problems relating to SSA’s representative payee program as a means to better protect our most vulnerable seniors from misuse of their modest incomes.
Congratulations to these hard working Fellows.  For law students or recent graduates thinking about applying for a future Borchard Law and Aging Fellowship grant, a reminder that the annual deadline is in mid-April.  Start your planning now!

August 12, 2015 in Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Grant Deadlines/Awards, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Legal Practice/Practice Management | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 10, 2015

FAQ on Service Animals Under the ADA

The Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Law Section has released an FAQ on service animals and the ADA. The 37 FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA runs the gamut from definitions to general rules, to breeds of dogs, to exclusions, to certifications and registrations, and more.  DOJ offers this introduction to the FAQ: 

The Department of Justice continues to receive many questions about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to service animals. The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make "reasonable modifications" in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, entities that have a "no pets" policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities. This publication provides guidance on the ADA’s service animal provisions and should be read in conjunction with the publication ADA Revised Requirements: Service Animals

(auth. note, ADA Revised Requirements: Service Animals found at http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm). To learn more about the ADA, visit ADA.gov.

August 10, 2015 in Discrimination, Federal Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ADA Turns 25

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law 25 years ago, on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. According to the information on the ADA website

Twenty-five years ago, through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), our nation committed itself to eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division  is proud to play a critical role in enforcing the ADA, working towards a future  in which all the doors are open to equality of opportunity, full participation,  independent living, integration and economic self-sufficiency for persons with  disabilities. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the ADA, each month the  Department of Justice will spotlight efforts that are opening gateways to full  participation and opportunity for people with disabilities.

The efforts that are spotlighted can be accessed here.  Concomitant with the anniversary, the Social Security Administration's July 27, 2015 blog, Supporting the Americans with Disabilities Act, focused on the ADA's anniversary. 

There were a number of articles highlighting the ADA's anniversary.  For example, the New York Times  ran a Room for Debate on the ADA, The Americans With Disabilities Act, 25 Years LaterNPR did a story on the ADA's influence on other countries, How A Law To Protect Disabled Americans Became Imitated Around The World and the Washington Post ran an article by Professor Robert L. Burgdorf Jr., Why I Wrote the Americans with Disabilities ActPresident Obama spoke about the anniversary of the ADA and the White House website has a page devoted to issues facing Americans with disabilities. 

If you cover the ADA in your classes, there are many more useful articles and stories released as a result of the  ADA's 25th anniversary. 

July 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Federal Statutes/Regulations, International, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Law Reform: A Proposed Remedy for "Deeply Toxic" Damage to Higher Ed Caused by Abolition of Mandatory Retirement

Bentley University Professors  Beverley Earle and Marianne Delbo Kulow have a nicely provocative article in the Spring 2015 issue of the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, titled The "Deeply Toxic" Damage Caused by the Abolition of Mandatory Retirement and its Collision with Tenure in Higher Education: A Proposal for Statutory Repair.  From the introduction:

There are very few positions that offer the level of protection that tenure does. One such position is a federal judgeship, which is distinguishable because of the very public nature of the work. If a judge performs inadequately, community backlash may quickly develop that could usher in a publicly coerced retirement. For example, a state judge, who recently gave a lenient sentence to a convicted rapist of a minor who committed suicide, has announced his retirement following pubic outrage.Tenured faculty members, unlike judges, labor in the relative isolation of the classroom, where feedback comes at the end of the semester and then only via student evaluations. This creates the first of two problems for higher education in the United States stemming from the abolition of mandatory retirement: the difficulty of removing a tenured professor for poor performance.

 

In most universities, only egregiously poor performance by a tenured professor is flagged for termination; outdated, boring, or barely adequate, teaching may not sufficiently stand out to warrant a more intense review.  There is also a slow feedback loopdue to minimal, if any, post-tenure peer classroom evaluations and skepticism about student evaluations of teaching. Therefore, often many semesters pass before there is sufficient evidence to persuade a professor or her superiors that the tenured professor's employment status should be reevaluated. Inadequacies in scholarship can be even more difficult to discern, given the common time lag between research and publication, as well as the variations between disciplines in frequency, length, and format of publications.

 

The second distinct challenge faced by higher education caused by the coupling of the abolition of mandatory retirement with the institution of tenure is the prospect of stagnant departments: no new faculty may be hired because there are no vacancies....

The authors' proposed reforms include "expiration" of tenure for professors reaching age 70, while permitting continued employment opportunities on the same evaluative standards as non-tenured faculty. 

July 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Retirement, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 24, 2015

From SSRN: "Abuse of Elders with Mental Illness" by Prof. James T.R. Jones

Professor James T.R. Jones continues to bring his unique and important perspective to bear in his latest work available on SSRN.  In Abuse of Elders with Mental Illness: Generally an International and Specifically a United States Perspective, he highlights the ways in which various types of mental illness may contribute to unique vulnerability to abuse as the individuals age.  This is a chapter from a new book, International and Comparative Law on the Rights of Older Persons edited by Ralph Ruebner, Teresa Do and Amy Taylor published by Vandeplas Publishing in May 2015. From the SSRN abstract on Professor Jones' chapter:

Elder abuse is a major international problem, and scandal.  It is so important that both the United Nations (“UN”) and the World Health Organization (“WHO”) have focused on it.  Elder abuse occurs in a variety of ways.  It can be physical abuse due to either active injury or passive neglect.  It can be psychological abuse through fear and intimidation.  It can be financial abuse due to theft or fraud.  Abusers can be strangers; healthcare workers, too often in nursing home settings; and spouses, partners, children, grandchildren, or other relatives.  Abusers may be motivated by cruelty, laziness, or greed for quick profit or a premature inheritance.



While all elders can be abused, those with mental illness are particularly vulnerable.  This group can encompass both those with longstanding mental illnesses such as major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder and those psychiatrically debilitated by age, notably including those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.  Victims may be living in private residential settings both alone and with family or friends or in institutions such as nursing homes.



This chapter gives a brief overview of elder abuse and then focuses on the victim population of those vulnerable because of mental illness and how they face abuse.  It discusses possible ways to reduce the incidence of abuse of those with psychiatric conditions including, among other things, mandatory abuse reporting and enhanced focus on the problem by government, in particular law enforcement, authorities and primary care and mental health care providers.

The book is another important product from John Marshall Law's summer 2014 forum examining the rights of older persons, leading to the summer' "Chicago Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons" presented before the United Nations' working session on aging.   

 

July 24, 2015 in Books, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Comparative Law: Practice Guide for Representing Vulnerable Clients in England & Wales

Law Society England Wales

The Law Society of England and Wales recently issued a "Practice Note" for lawyers (or rather, "solicitors") on representing vulnerable clients, including but not limited to clients with dementia.  The guideline reflects research that demonstrated "solicitors need to adapt their practices to identify and meet the needs of vulnerable clients." The guide recognizes that "vulnerable" clients may include a range of persons, and may involve physical or mental capacity issues of varying degrees.

The guide warns that failure to "meet the needs of a vulnerable client" may trigger:

  • A discrimination claim or a claim for a failure to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010, which could result in sanctions including damages.
  • A claim for damages or compensation against you or your firm if you act on the instructions of a client lacking capacity to make relevant decisions, having failed to satisfy yourself as to the client's capacity to instruct you or failing to document your assessment of the client's capacity, leaving the validity of the transaction open to challenge.
  • A complaint against you to the Legal Ombudsman, which could result in your name being published and/or you having to pay financial compensation. The ombudsman will refer complaints about discrimination to the SRA.
  • Reputational risk - your practice's reputation is inextricably linked to the way in which you treat your clients. Conversely, a practice with an inclusive ethos will not only attract a wider group of clients but also a more diverse workforce bringing benefits to the business.

The guide has a detailed discussion of mental capacity issues, including the attorney's need to consider the following four factors:

Continue reading

July 22, 2015 in Cognitive Impairment, Discrimination, Ethical Issues, International, Legal Practice/Practice Management | Permalink | Comments (0)