Thursday, January 25, 2018

Netherlands: Examining Physician's Actions in Euthanasia Death of 74-Year Old Woman with Dementia

As my blogging colleague Becky Morgan has highlighted in two of her posts this week, about a February conference at Hastings and recent proposals for "dementia advance directives," end-of-life decisions are increasingly high-profile topics for those working in law, medicine and ethics.  Add to this the case under review in the Netherlands, where a physician described as a "nursing home doctor" performed euthanasia for a 74-year old woman with "severe dementia." A Dutch law legalizing euthanasia, that came into effect in 2002 and that was recently the subject of new "guidelines for performing euthanasia on people with severe dementia," is also under review.  From Dutch News in September 2017:

The case centres on a 74-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with dementia five years ago. At the time she completed a living will, saying she did not want to go into a home and that she wished to die when she considered the time was right. After her condition deteriorated, she was placed in a nursing home where she became fearful and angry and took to wandering through the corridors at night.The nursing home doctor reviewed her case and decided that the woman was suffering unbearably, which would justify her wish to die.

 

The doctor put a drug designed to make her sleep into her coffee which is against the rules. She also pressed ahead with inserting a drip into the woman’s arm despite her protests and asked her family to hold her down, according to the official report on the death. This too contravenes the guidelines. Once the public prosecution department has finished its investigation it will decide whether or not the doctor, a specialist in geriatric medicine, should face criminal charges.

In reading articles about this matter, I'm struck by how often the articles (and my own post here) draw attention to the woman's age, comparatively "young" at 74, as well as the fact that her euthanasia directive written five years earlier also expressed her wish not to leave her home.  If an individual is younger -- with dementia -- does that reduce society's willingness to "allow" aid in dying? If individuals are older -- and what age is old enough -- is it less controversial? And is a family bound by the individual's wishes not to leave her home?  Tough questions, indeed.

This case has also drawn attention in commentary in the US, including a January 24, 2018  Washington Post piece with the provocative title, How Many Botched Cases Would It Take to End Euthanasia of the Vulnerable?   

January 25, 2018 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dementia Therapy in German Nursing Home

A German nursing home is turning back the hands of time in an effort to better treat residents with dementia. The Washington Post story, A German nursing home tries a novel form of dementia therapy: re-creating a vanished era for its patients, explains how rather than trying to help residents remember, the facility takes them back to a specific period of time when they were younger.  For example one "nursing home ...  is trying to trigger [resident] ... memories by re-creating settings from [a prior] era as a form of therapy. While other nursing homes are also trying to help their residents remember details of their lives, what is going on here could well be the only concerted effort to re-create for its residents an entire historical era." This includes providing residents with tools they used in their jobs-but this only works if they liked their jobs, according to the article. Items are placed in "a memory room" for residents to visit.  The staff had to become knowledgeable about the time period in order to appear as an authentic residents of the era. So far the facility focuses on two decades with plans to expand to encompass a third decade.

Thanks to my colleague, Professor Mark Bauer, for alerting me to the article.

December 28, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Filial Friday: Can Americans be Compelled by Germany to Contribute to Costs for a Parent's Care in Germany?

It has been awhile since I've written a "Filial Friday" post. Perhaps any question about legal obligations for family members to pay for care of another is an unfair topic during the holiday season.  A bit too downbeat, yes?  But, in fairness it is a topic that has reemerged in my "inbox," as I've recently received two communications from American adult children of biological parents in Germany.  In each instance, the reason is that Germany authorities are writing to American citizens to notify them that an aging German parent is or may be in need of "social welfare benefits" in Germany.  As one demand letter puts it:

"The above person is your mother.  According to [the Germany Civil Code] you have a basic obligation to pay maintenance for your mother.  According to Section 94 of the [Social Security Code] the maintenance obligations of a person eligible for benefits are passed on to [the Germany regional authorities] up to the amount of the expenses we incur in so far as this is not excluded for legal reasons."

In other words, it appears the German social service agency is saying that if it is called upon to incur expenses for welfare of a Germany citizen, it has the legal authority to seek contribution or reimbursement from the family members identified in German statutory law as having a maintenance obligation, including any children living in other countries.

As readers of this Blog know, I have a long-standing interest in such filial support claims, in large part because I live and work in Pennsylvania, the U.S. state that most frequently enforces a colonial-era law, permitting third-party providers of care in certain instances to compel adult children to pay reimbursement for costs of care, usually nursing home care.  The 2012 Pennsylvania Superior Court decision in Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. Pittas, where an adult son was found to be liable for more than $90,000 for his mother's nursing home care, is one of the most dramatic modern example of domestic enforcement in the U.S.   

The letters from Germany undoubtedly surprise, and perhaps frighten, the American children who have probably never heard of such a claim coming from public authorities.  (In the U.S., in the modern era the occasional claim usually comes from a nursing home that isn't being paid for long-term care by private or public means, and the claims are not coming from public agencies.)

Continue reading

December 21, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, December 8, 2017

As The Oldest Generation Ages in Japan . . .

A haunting story and visual images of growing old alone in Japan, from the New York Times, including this excerpt:

To many residents in Mrs. Ito’s complex, the deaths were the natural and frightening conclusion of Japan’s journey since the 1960s. A single-minded focus on economic growth, followed by painful economic stagnation over the past generation, had frayed families and communities, leaving them trapped in a demographic crucible of increasing age and declining births. The extreme isolation of elderly Japanese is so common that an entire industry has emerged around it, specializing in cleaning out apartments where decomposing remains are found.

For more, see A Lonely Death, by Norimitsu Onishi, published November 30, 2017.

December 8, 2017 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Current Affairs, Housing, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Canadian Centre for Elder Law New Report on Vulnerable Investors

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL) released a new report, Report On Vulnerable Investors: Elder Abuse, Financial Exploitation, Undue Influence And Diminished Mental Capacity, which can be downloaded as a pdf here. The report was a joint project between CCEL and FAIR (Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor  Rights). Here is the executive summary of the report

Canadian investment firms and their financial services representatives1 (hereinafter referred to as "financial services representatives" or simply "representatives") serve millions of vulnerable investors, many of whom are older Canadians. Vulnerable investors may be persons living in isolated, abusive or neglectful situations which can make them more likely to be subject to undue influence. They also may be persons with diminished mental capacity due to health issues, developmental disability, brain injury or other cognitive impairment. Such social vulnerabilities may be episodic, or long-term.2

Who is a Vulnerable Investor?

Older investors, persons with fluctuating or diminished mental capacity, and adults who are subject to undue influence or financial exploitation are collectively referred to in this report as vulnerable investors. This concept of vulnerability is often a contentious one. This report uses the term "vulnerable" to refer to social vulnerability, and does not ascribe vulnerability to older persons as an inherent personal characteristic.3 Rather, the term reflects an understanding that differing social conditions may make a person more or less vulnerable. Individual older investors may personally not be socially vulnerable. But as a group, older individuals may be subject to external conditionssuch as ageismthat negatively affect them. This report specifically notes that ageism can make older people broadly vulnerable as a class, even while individual older adults may not be, or identify, as particularly vulnerable themselves.

This report adopts the core aspects of the Quebec definition of vulnerable investor. A vulnerable investor is a person who is in a vulnerable situation, who is of the age of majority, and lacks an ability to request or obtain assistance, either temporarily or permanently, due to one or more factors such as a physical, cognitive or psychological limitation, illness, injury or handicap.

It is important, and a goal of this report, to highlight the increased social vulnerability risks associated with aging and to raise awareness that aging life-course benchmarks may trigger a representative to start ensuring that increased appropriate protections or standards are in place. In this way, the issue of older investors will be drawn to the fore, without supporting the myth that all old people are vulnerable and in need of protection.


 
 

November 26, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Call for Papers-Western Sydney University Elder Law Review

Here's the info from my dear friend, Sue Field, co-editor.

Elder Law Review The Elder Law Review is an independent refereed e-journal produced by Elder Law at Western Sydney University. It is the only Australian Journal concerned with Elder Law. The Review publishes articles about legal issues relating to seniors in all areas of law, including wills, powers of attorney, substitute decision-making, guardianship, discrimination, accommodation, contracts, financial management, retirement income, taxation and property. The Review is multi-disciplinary, bringing together professionals working, researching and writing in the aged care area. It is designed to be of interest to academics, practitioners and those involved in the provision of aged care.

The Elder Law Review can be accessed at

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/ElderLawRw/recent.html

https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/elr/elder_law/elder_law_review_elr

Call for submissions for Volume 11 (due for publication early 2018).

Notes to contributors The theme of the forthcoming issue will be “Legal and Financial Issues surrounding Retirement Villages” Original, unpublished contributions are invited for any of the following sections of the Review:

  • the Refereed section containing scholarly articles about the legal/social/economic/policy issues associated with “International Perspectives on Elder Law”. While we will consider articles of any length, we prefer them to be between 3000 and 8000 words.
  • the Comments section, which consists of contributions from government, lawyers and aged care representatives, commenting on issues which the contributor perceives to be of contemporary significance within elder law.
  • News and Current Issues – including legislative changes and case notes.
  • Elder Law in Practice which profiles legal practices, community projects, social justice initiatives and pro-bono schemes from all over the world that specifically target the legal needs of older people.

Papers must conform to the Australian Guide to Legal Citation which can be accessed at

http://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/1586203/FinalOnlinePDF-2012Reprint.pdf

In particular, contributors should note the conventions regarding footnotes and bibliographies. Submissions must be received by January 15th, 2018  and should be addressed to Sue Field S.Field@westernsydney.edu.au

For further information please contact Sue Field co-editor S.Field@westernsydney.edu.au Contributors are reminded that papers should be written in clear language accessible to specialists and non-specialists alike and that submission of articles is no guarantee of publication, as the Elder Law Review is a peer reviewed journal and ERA ranked.

 

 

November 13, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Housing, International, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Aging, Law & Society Collaborative Research Network Call for Papers Due Oct. 16

The next meeting of the Aging, Law & Society Collaborative Research Network is set for June 7-10, 2018 in Toronto as part of the Law & Society Annual meeting.  Here's the info from the announcement: 

The Aging, Law, and Society Collaborative Research Network (CRN) invites scholars to participate in a multi-event workshop sponsored by the CRN as part of the Law and Society Association’s 2018 Annual Meeting. The Aging, Law & Society CRN brings together scholars from across disciplines to share research and ideas about the relationship between law and aging, including how the law responds the needs of persons as they age and how law shapes the aging experience. This year’s workshop will feature themed panels, roundtable discussions, and rapid fire presentations in which participants can share new ideas and research projects.

The CRN encourages paper proposals on a broad range of issues related to law and aging. However, we especially encourage proposals on the following topics:

• Creative, inter-disciplinary and empirical methodologies for studying law and aging;

• Intergenerational relationships, ageism, and intergenerational justice;

• Theoretical frameworks for understanding the law as it relates to older adults;

• Legal responses to dementia;

• Long-term care;

• Elder abuse and neglect;

• Human rights of older adults; and

• Identity and intersectionality in older age.

In addition to paper proposals, we also welcome:

• Volunteers to serve as panel discussants and as commentators on works-in-progress.

• Ideas and proposals for themed panels, round-tables, or a session around a new book.

Proposals are due October 16 (get busy writing). The form for submission is available here http://www.lawandsociety.org/Toronto2018/2018-guidelines.html).  and should be sent by email to Professor Nina Kohn nakohn@law.syr.edu & Dr. Issi Doron, idoron@univ.haifa.ac.il along with a 1000 word abstract and your contact info.

 

 

October 12, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Other, Programs/CLEs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Canada: Medical Aid-in-Dying

A recent story in the Toronto Star covers a ruling from a trial court judge about Canada's Medical Aid-in-Dying law. Advocates hail judge’s decision in woman’s assisted death appeal  explains the judge's decision: "[a] 77-year-old woman seeking medical assistance in dying has a “reasonably foreseeable” natural death, a judge declared Monday in an attempt to clear up uncertainty that left her doctor unwilling to perform the end-of-life procedure for fear of a murder charge."  The concern in the case was the meaning of "reasonably foreseeable" and the judge held "[t]o be reasonably foreseeable, the person’s natural death doesn’t have be imminent or within a specific time frame or be the result of a terminal condition...."

The judge went on to explain

“The legislation is intended to apply to a person who is “on a trajectory toward death because he or she a) has a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability; b) is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability; and c) is enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable,” ....

June 27, 2017 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Are You Using Social Media?

If you scoffed at this title, thinking "of course I am" then you are not alone. But, if you scoffed at this title, thinking "nope, I'm not" then you are not alone either.  The Pew Research Center Fact Tank released another News in Numbers, this time on social media use. Not everyone in advanced economies is using social media found higher usage in certain countries than others. Sweden, US, the Netherlands and Australia are top in social media use (about 70%)  by country. But what about use by age?  "The age gap on social media use between 18- to 34-year-olds and those ages 50 and older is significant in every country surveyed. For example, 88% of Polish millennials report using social networking sites, compared with only 17% of Poles ages 50 and older, a 71-percentage-point gap."  With a 71% age gap in Poland taking the #1 place in the Pew brief, the U.S. was ranked last with only a 34% age gap in social media use. 

May 17, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Preventative "Support Visits" Starting at Age 75 under Consideration in Northern Ireland

On May 10, 2017, my research colleagues Gavin Davidson (Queens University Belfast) and Subhajit Basu (University of Leeds) participated in a policy briefing at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.  They appeared in support of recommendations by the Commissioner of Older People (COPNI) Eddie Lynch on a major plan for modernization of social care programs for vulnerable adults (of any age).

Professors Davidson and Basu focused on three key recommendations:

  1. Northern Ireland should have a single legislative framework for adult social care with accompanying guidance for implementation. This could either be new or consolidated legislation, based on human rights principles, bringing existing social care law together into one coherent framework.
  1. All older people in Northern Ireland, once they reach the age of 75 years, should be offered a Support Visit by an appropriately trained professional. This will be based on principles of choice and self-determination and is aimed at helping older people to be aware of the support and preventative services that are available to them.
  1. Increasing demands for health and social care reinforce the importance of considering how these services should be funded. All future funding arrangements must be equitable and not discriminate against any group who may have higher levels of need.

The audience, which included researchers, social service program administrators and elected officials (not only from Northern Ireland, but elsewhere, including the Isle of Man), reportedly responded strongly to the recommendations, especially to the concept of specially-trained "support visitors," offered to persons age 75 or older. The intent is to provide individuals with planning support and, where needed, medical assessment.  Guidance and information is often needed for pre-crisis planning, thus moving in the direction of prevention of crises and reduction of need for last-minute response. The support visitor concept has been used successfully in Denmark and other locations in Europe.  The next step for Northern Ireland would likely be a pilot or test project.  

As a co-author of the research reports that led to the COPNI recommendations, working with Professors Gavin Davidson and Subhajit Basu as part of a team headed by Dr. Joe Duffy of Queens University Belfast, I found it an interesting coincidence that at almost the same time as the Northern Ireland government session, I was addressing similar interests in "preventative" planning while speaking on elder abuse in a "Day on the Hill" program at the Capitol in Pennsylvania, hosted by the Alzheimer's Association.  It is clear that on both sides of the Atlantic, we are interested in cost-effective, proactive measures to help people stay in their homes safely.   

May 12, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Retirement, Social Security, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Older Adults & Immigration: Free Webinar

Register now for Justice in Aging's latest webinar, Older Adults & Immigration. The webinar is set for Friday April 21, 2017  from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. edt.  Oh, and did I mention, it is free!  Here's a description of the webinar

Are your immigrant senior clients coming to you with immigration-related questions? Recent events may leave your immigrant senior clients understandably confused. Need clarification on an immigrant older adult’s eligibility for safety net programs like Medicaid or SSI? Join Justice in Aging as we host a special immigration law webinar with our partners from the National Immigration Law Center. Intended for an audience who work with low income seniors but who are not familiar with immigration law, this webinar will cover basic topics, like:
• Different types of immigrants in our communities;
• Rights and protections for immigrant seniors;
• Immigrant senior eligibility for SSI, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; and
• Resources for individual assistance

This free webinar will also highlight some of the recent events affecting immigrant seniors and how they may be affected by changes in government policies. 

To register, click here.

April 17, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, International, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Summer Study in London: Prof. Kate Mewhinney's Course on Comparative Law & Aging

Our good friend, a true expert on international perspectives on elder law, Professor Kate Mewhinney, is offering her course on Comparative Law and Aging in London this summer.  Here are the details for the 3 credit course, part of a summer program that begins May 29, 2017:

This course examines how countries address what has been called the “silver tsunami” – the rapidly aging demographic.  Through a comparative and international analysis students will learn how different legal systems address similar challenges brought on by increased longevity and fewer births.  The course allows us to compare legal approaches to such issues as retirement ages, pensions and Social Security, appointment of financial surrogates, employment discrimination, filial responsibility and health care policies on long-term care and end-of-life options.  The focus will be on the U.S., U.K. and major European countries, as well as Japan, the European Union, and China.  There are no prerequisites. Students will be graded on class participation, a quiz on fundamentals, and a short research paper to be turned in within a month of the course end.

For more information on enrollment and other details of Wake Forest University School of Law's summer program in London, see the details here.   

February 15, 2017 in Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Retiring Abroad

The Denver Post ran an AP story a few weeks ago about Americans retiring abroad. Growing number of Americans are retiring outside the U.S.  highlights the increase in the number of Americans who decide to retire and live abroad. "The number grew 17 percent between 2010 and 2015 and is expected to increase over the next 10 years as more baby boomers retire... Just under 400,000 American retirees are now living abroad, according to the Social Security Administration. The countries they have chosen most often: Canada, Japan, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom." The article references a lower cost of living or cheaper health care as a reason some Americans choose to retire to other countries.  Climate may also be a factor.  It would be an interesting exercise for students to list the issues and considerations when clients decide to retire to another country.  Anyone want to assign this as a project?

January 25, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Netherlands' Proposed Expansion of Aid-in-Dying

The Guardian ran a story last month about proposed legislation in the Netherlands for elders who aren't terminally ill, but instead believe they have lived long enough. Netherlands may extend assisted dying to those who feel 'life is complete' explains that "[t]he Dutch government intends to draft a law that would legalise assisted suicide for people who feel they have “completed life” but are not necessarily terminally ill."  Cabinet ministers have provided the Dutch Parliament with a letter about the plan, explaining "people who 'have a well-considered opinion that their life is complete, must, under strict and careful criteria, be allowed to finish that life in a manner dignified for them'."  The intent is to limit the law's application to elders "'because the wish for a self-chosen end of life primarily occurs in the elderly, the new system will be limited to' them." The article indicates that there would be safeguards in the law. The target for completing the draft legislation is the end of 2017. 

Stay tuned.

Thanks to Ron Hammerle for alerting me to the proposed legislation.

November 3, 2016 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 21, 2016

LeadingAge's Annual Meeting Begins October 30 in Indianapolis

LeadingAge, the trade association that represents nonprofit providers of senior services, begins its annual meeting at the end of October.  This year's theme is "Be the Difference," a call for changing the conversation about aging.  I won't be able to attend this year and I'm sorry that is true, as I am always impressed with the line-up of topics and the window the conference provides for academics into industry perspectives on common concerns.  For example, this year's line up of workshops and topics includes:

October 21, 2016 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, International, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Medicaid, Medicare, Programs/CLEs, Property Management, Retirement, Science, Social Security, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Veterans | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Enthusiastic Aging: The 9th Stage of Life?

The International Journal of Aging & Society recently published The Ninth Stage of Life: Aging with Enthusiasm.  The abstract explains

A new stage has been added to the human life cycle due to increasing numbers of the very old. In particular, adults over eighty constitute a new focus for developmental research. These older adults seem to have reached a stage beyond Erikson’s eight stages, first proposed sixty-four years ago. As Joan Erikson suggested, eight stages no longer capture the end of life concerns of this older group. In this paper, I review the research focusing on the self-reports of individuals who are still thriving in their eighties and nineties. I suggest that this research supports a ninth Eriksonian life stage. This ninth stage might be called “Appreciation versus Resignation with the associated strength, Enthusiasm.” A defining aspect of the elders described in the studies cited below is that they express a keen appreciation for their extended years and a determination not to squander them. I discuss implications for practice and for further research.

Who are these 9th stagers and why study them? According to the introduction,

“Ninth stagers” are individuals in their eighties and nineties. I suggest that the emerging picture of this stage is considerably brighter than the one Joan Erikson painted. In the spirit of Erik Erikson’s (1950) proposed eight stages, I suggest that the ninth stage is characterized by a dialectical tension between two qualities, appreciation and resignation, with the associated strength, enthusiasm. I consider research focused on ninth stagers’ self-reports as well as research on the essential conditions for sustaining vitality and enthusiasm. Following Gawande (2015), I suggest that our diminished picture of the capacity for vitality in ninth stagers is, in part, an artifact of the medicalized assisted living environment in which many of our seniors live and the deleterious effect of this environment on their autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

The 9 page article looks  at vitality, longevity and psychological variables to name a few.  The author concludes "this ninth life stage might be called “Appreciation versus Resignation with the associated strength, Enthusiasm.” A defining aspect of many of the elders in the studies cited was that they expressed keen appreciation for their extended years and a determination not to squander them. Enthusiasm does not seem too strong a word to characterize their strength. Toquote Henry David Thoreau: 'None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.'"

A pdf of the article is available for download from here.

 

 

October 12, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Signs of Our Times? Japanese Stores Are Increasingly Convenient for Seniors

Dickinson Law Professor Laurel Terry sent me a timely link to an NPR story about Japanese convenience stores.  I was already thinking about how retail shopping has changed over the years. For example, on the corner of 7th Avenue and Indian School Road in Phoenix, there used to be a high-end Scandinavian furniture store.  I'd only been in it once, and that was to use a gift certificate for what seemed like a huge amount of money at the time as a wedding present. My husband and I realized the most we could afford in the store was a wooden bowl. A very nice wooden bowl, mind you, but still, it was a wooden bowl. 

Yesterday, as I passed that corner, I realized there was still a big, fancy sign out front, but the store is now a Goodwill franchise store.

So, with that change in mind, I enjoyed the NPR story, captioned Beyond Slurpees: Many Japanese MiniMarts Now Cater to Elders. From the written account:

Case in point is a Lawson convenience store in the city of Kawaguchi, north of Tokyo. It sells products that an American consumer would never find tucked between the aspirin and the candy bars. For example, there's a whole rack of ready-to-heat meals in colorful pouches. They're rated at levels from 1 to 5, based on how hard it is to chew what's inside.

 

Or, as the store's manager, Masahiko Terada, puts it, "the higher the level, the less need for you to chew. In the end it's porridge."

 

***

 

This Lawson store in Kawaguchi is one of six in a special line called Care Lawson. The company plans to expand to 30 by early next year. And these Care Lawson stores have another special feature: staff like Mika Kojima.

 

She's a nursing care manager and she's stationed at this Lawson store. In fact the franchise owner of this store is actually a nursing services company. Anyone who comes in can ask for Kojima's help. For example, she'll go to an older client's home to make sure it's set up so they can live there safely. And she'll connect families with adult day care services.

Convenience stories should be just that, convenient, right?  With adults over age-65 making up nearly 27 percent of Japan's population, it just makes sense for retailers to provide customer-specific merchandise that is easily accessible, especially for people who might prefer to avoid large supermarkets.  The Lawson chain also offers home deliveries. 

The story made me wonder more about Lawson. How was it that the Japanese chain came to have such a non-Japanese name?  It turns out Lawson began back to 1939 in Ohio, in the United States, where J. J. Lawson ran a dairy milk store. "'Mr. Lawson's milk store' was locally renowned for its fresh and delicious milk and many customers came to buy milk there every morning."  The first Lawson convenience store opened in Japan in 1975 and sold "party food," very different from the model of today.  

August 24, 2016 in Consumer Information, International, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Global Retirement Security Report: We're Number .... 14!

Investment News published a story about retirement security across the globe, and reports that the U.S. ranks #14.  U.S. comes in 14th in global ranking of retirement security reports on Natixis Global Asset Management's annual ranking. The article explains that Norway, Switzerland and Iceland came in 1, 2 and 3 respectively, while the U.S. finished at 14 out of 43.  According to the article, we did better in some categories, even breaking the top 10, for example, "No. 7, in the health care part of the index." But bummer, we were "No. 30 for life expectancy." But even more of a bummer, "[o]ne area in which the U.S. had an abysmal ranking was in its high level of income inequality, which helped drive it down to No. 37 of the 43 countries. The U.S. and Singapore share the dubious distinction of being the only countries in the top five for income per capita and in the bottom 10 for their large gaps in income equality." According to the article "Norway joins a number of top 10 countries in having a compulsory workplace savings program. It requires employers to fund private retirement accounts with 2% of a worker's earnings annually. That pales next to Australia, No. 6, where employers must kick in at least 9.5%. "

The full Natixis report is available here.

 

August 7, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Good News in Fighting Frauds

Hopefully none of the readers of this blog have ever been a victim of a consumer scam, had their identities stolen, or know someone who has been a victim. That said, it is unfortunately likely that we all know someone who has been a victim of a scam. But there is good news on an international front regarding a scam that required victims to send money in order to claim their "winnings".

An article about efforts from U.S. and Dutch law enforcement efforts explain that FIOD and US DoJ conduct simultaneous operations against worldwide multi-million euro fraud with false letters. The article explains Dutch law enforcement is seizing mail from 300 mailboxes and is investigating 6 companies. At the same time DOJ filed suit "against two of the suspected companies and one director in the Netherlands, on behalf of hundreds of thousands of victims." Here's how this scam worked

[T]he main suspects sent millions of letters to people in the United States, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy, France, Japan and many more countries. In the letters, addressed to people personally, the recipients were made to believe that they had won an award in the amount of money or a check, which they had not claimed yet. Another example was that the sender of the letter intended to give money to the recipient as an act of charity. In addition, letters were sent which stated that the recipient was a guaranteed winner in a lottery. To be able to transfer the money to the recipient, the latter had to send a cash amount of between 20 and 45 euro or a cheque, each time to a mailbox in the Netherlands.

In various letters, approximately 300 different mailbox numbers in the Netherlands were mentioned. Allegedly, the six suspected Dutch companies, which are the subject of the FIOD-investigation manage a large part of the mailboxes, empty them and process the mail. Presumably, the companies were allowed to keep part of the money as payment for services rendered, but the larger part of the money was transferred to bank accounts, which allegedly belonged to the main suspects of the fraud.

The DOJ press release is available here which also includes a link to the complaint filed in federal court.  Kudos to U.S. DOJ and to the Dutch law enforcement agency for excellent work!

 

June 8, 2016 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Federal Cases, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Physician-aided Dying in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the focus of an article in the New York Times last week on physician-aided dying in Canada. Justin Trudeau Seeks to Legalize Assisted Suicide in Canada reports that a proposed law was introduced that would allow physician-aided dying  "for Canadian residents and citizens who have "a “serious and incurable illness,” which has brought them 'enduring physical or psychological suffering.'"

Under Canada’s proposed law, people who have a serious medical condition and want to die will be able to commit suicide with medication provided by their doctors or have a doctor or nurse practitioner administer the dose for them. Family members and friends will be allowed to assist patients with their death, and social workers and pharmacists will be permitted to participate in the process.

The legislation follows a ruling by the Canadian Supreme Court which eliminated a criminal ban on physician-aided dying. A copy of that decision is available here.

One striking difference in the proposed legislation in Canada compared to those states in the U.S. where physician-aided dying is legal is that "a doctor or nurse practitioner [may] administer the dose for them. Family members and friends will be allowed to assist patients with their death, and social workers and pharmacists will be permitted to participate in the process."

Not all in Canada are in favor of the legislation. CBC Canada ran a story,  Religious groups react to physician-assisted dying bill LIVE where a number of groups stated concerns about the legislation.  The video is available here.

If any of our readers are from Canada, we would be very interested in hearing more about the discussion in Canada on this proposal.

April 20, 2016 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)