Wednesday, January 29, 2014
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, bird watchers from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 14–17, 2014. Anyone anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at www.BirdCount.org. The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Hayley is investigating DIY funerals. Who is Hayley? Of course, she's a character on the British night-time soap opera, Coronation Street (a/k/a "Corrie"), that's been running continuously in the U.K. since 1960. Hayley doesn't want to "waste good money on oak caskets and brass handles. "
Here's an essay from the Irish Times, inspired both by the fictional Corrie debate, and preferences expressed by the County Down author's real-life partner, including a discussion of an Irish tradition, the wake.
I especially like the line from the essay, "She was waked in her own home."
Thank you, Una Lynch, for sending the link from across the Atlantic!
Sunday, January 12, 2014
I came across this today and just had to post it...
In his ongoing series of photorealistic oil paintings called the Aging Superhero, Swedish artist Andreas Englund takes us into the candidly humorous life of an anonymous superhero who has probably seen better days. Though he still puts up a tough fight, the wear and tear of battling crime has taken its toll on this elderly action figure.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
This book review is the first of two student-authored pieces I will be posting this week. We've heard from Regan before--she attended the NAELA/NALI conference in November and wrote two posts about her experiences there. Regan is a December 2013 graduate of William Mitchell. She also has a certificate in health law compliance from Hamline. Regan will be taking the Minnesota bar in February and is looking for a position in the elder law/health law field. Contact me if you have any leads for her and I will put you in touch!
Barbara Cassidy, Deliberate Accident (BookCrafters 2013) (self-published) (available from Amazon)
Review by Regan Bovee, J.D. William Mitchell College of Law, December 2013
Deliberate Accident tells the story of author Barbara Cassidy’s fight to protect her father, Robert, from physical, financial, and verbal abuse from his second wife, Diane. After Robert’s first wife (Barbara’s mother) dies, Robert quickly begins dating and enters into several relationships with women who take advantage of his generous, trusting personality. Robert eventually meets and marries Diane, a nurse at a local nursing home who, unbeknownst to Robert, has recently married a well-to-do resident. Diane makes a living from seducing male residents and other elderly men, gaining control of their finances, and selling their possessions.
The beginning of Robert’s relationship with Diane coincides with the first signs of his dementia. It is often hard for Barbara to tell if her father’s actions are “her father being her father” or if he is losing cognitive ability. By the time it is clear that Robert has dementia, Diane is so entangled in their lives that Ms. Cassidy, her father, and their family are helpless.
The focus of the book is Diane’s reprehensible treatment of Robert, but the real value is in the very accurate depiction of how Robert’s dementia progresses over the course of ten years. Ms. Cassidy frequently quotes a psychologist who tells her that Robert’s dementia is “as good as it will ever get right now . . . In fact, it will only get worse.” This statement holds true throughout the book and is sure to have a familiar ring to those who have cared for someone with dementia. Although Ms. Cassidy, a long-term care nurse herself, continues to advocate for her father as his dementia becomes increasingly worse, there is little she can do for him.
Although Ms. Cassidy describes the book as a memoir, there are several conversations and descriptions of other’s thoughts and actions of which it would be impossible for her to have knowledge. This makes the story seem a bit less credible but enhances the dramatic quality. Further, the story line is difficult to follow in some areas. Characters are referred to interchangeably by their name or relationship (i.e. Robert or Dad) and sometimes switch mid-page, which disrupts the flow. Some of the sentences are also a bit choppy. Ms. Cassidy’s goal in writing this book, however, was to share her experience dealing with her father’s dementia and his new wife who abuses him physically, emotionally, and financially. She more than succeeds in that goal.
Note: This book is self-published.
Gentle readers--some but not all of you know that on January 1 of this new year, I took emeritus status at William Mitchell. For many reasons, I felt the time had come to leave full time law teaching to allow more room in my life for other activities. I don't plan to abandon the field of elder/disability law any time soon. To the contrary--I will continue to co-edit this blog, update annually my treatise and casebook and work on new projects (e.g. a book on comparative elder law that I am writing with Issi Doron and Becky Morgan, to be published by Carolina in 2015). I will also continue to edit the NAELA ebulletin and have committed to writing several articles and book chapters and giving some presentations in the coming months. I am designing health law and elder law courses for a new Health Management and Policy masters program at Valparaiso (thanks, Linda Whitton, for making that contact for me!), and I hope to teach a short course with my friend and colleague Cheol Ung Je at Hanyang University in Seoul at some time in the near future. I will be launching the Center for Elder Justice and Policy as an independent non-profit and I will also be working on a new intiative aimed at young adults with autism and similar disabilities (as some of you know, my son Colin is on the spectrum). Stay tuned for more on these new adventures!
Nevertheless, the time I won't be spending preparing and teaching regular classes will free me up to do some things I've wanted to for a long time--including pursuing my passions for photography and painting. You've already seen, from time to time, some of my photography on the pages of the blog. Look for more as I am able to devote additional time to my art!
Thanks for your support over the years. I guarantee that the blog (which is almost nine years old) will continue to fascinate, imform, and amuse you, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of my co-editors, and my own occasional postings of whatever I run across that seems interesting. Set the Elder Law Prof Blog as your home page, and you can be sure to have something useful to read every single day!
Monday, January 6, 2014
With classes starting up soon--for most of you, anyway :-) , I thought I'd post this link to The Zimmers' classic rendition of "My Generation". I often show this the first day of class as an intro to discussing ageism and stereotyping of the elderly. Have a look!
PS: Pearson's Nut Goodies are MINNESOTA MADE!
Monday, December 2, 2013
3L Nerissa Irizarry reports on her experiences at this year's NALI conference in Washington, DC (Part 2 of a series)....
The 2013 National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys conference held a session entitled “Making Your Office and Beyond Accessible to Your Clients With Intentional ‘Elder Friendly’ Design.” The session’s presenters were Professor Rebecca Morgan, Professor Roberta Flowers, both currently at Stetson University College of Law, and John E. Wittman from Geier Brown Renfrow Architects, LLC. The discussion that ensued was tremendously practical. The presenters sought to demonstrate, with assistance from the audience, the unique needs presented when creating an office that is welcoming to older clients. In addition to the distinctive interactive nature of this session, the presenters highlighted the intersectionality that is inherent in an elder law practice by including an architect in the discussion. Throughout the conversation, presenters and audience members commented on the ways in which design wishes and legal concerns coalesced, not always harmoniously, in the office planning process. For example, municipal regulations can pose a problem for the considerate elder law attorney who wants to install signage that is not consistent with local requirements. Mr. Wittman, NAELA’s featured architect, paid special attention to aesthetically appeasing as well as functional features of a welcoming elder law office. For instance, there was much attention paid to colors that contrasted, but did not clash, as well as light that was illuminative and diffused. The idea was to have an appealing office that was not harsh to the eyes of an older or (dis)abled client. The presenters enhanced the quality of their presentation by including pictures of elder law offices from around the country. These visuals invoked lots of conversation and comments from the audience. Overall, the interactive, practical aspects of this session blended fun into an educational, professional conference.
The overall atmosphere of the 2013 NAELA conference can be summed up in two words: inviting fun! As a first time attendee, who ventured to the conference knowing absolutely no one, I expected my social interactions to be at least slightly awkward. I was pleasantly surprised to have had exactly the opposite experience. Nearly everyone I interacted with was not only welcoming, but inviting. I was asked about my interests, passion, and future goals in the field of elder law. I spoke with attorneys who encouraged my induction into the field, as well as offered their moral support for any stumbles along the way. The interactions with elder law attorneys stood out as the outstanding aspect of the conference. In fact, one attendee (Ruth Ratzlaff) handed me her card and told me to call her if I ever needed a cheerleader. I will be sure to remember her when I am spending my summer tediously studying for admission to the California Bar.
The sessions were digestible, and that characteristic is particularly important for new and soon-to- be attorneys like myself. I especially enjoyed the interactive atmosphere within the sessions. As attendees, we did not sit still for too long before we were asked to participate in the conversation. The presentations truly felt like conversations. From the venue to the environment, the 2013 NAELA conference created an ambiance that was engaging and convivial to attendees.
--Nerissa Irizarray, J.D. expected, William Mitchell College of Law, May 2014.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Earlier this month I sent three of my students to NALI. NAELA members and others were welcoming, and the students learned so much there! I've asked the students to write some blog posts about their experiences, and will be posting these over the next few days. This one is by my RA Regan Bovee, who will graduate in December with a JD from William Mitchell and a Health Compliance certificate from Hamline.
My Experience at the NAELA National Aging and Law Institute
On November 7th-9th I had the incredible opportunity to attend the NAELA National Aging and Law Institute as a third-year law student. The conference began with a discussion on the budget and policy landscape and what can be expected in the next year. From there, I attended a whirlwind of sessions about everything from designing an elder friendly office to a funny and informative panel featuring staff from the Center for Medicare Advocacy playing “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.”
Jonathon Blum, the Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Director of the CMS Center for Medicare spoke about Medicare’s ‘observation status.’ Among other topics, he discussed accountable care organizations (ACOs), which are groups of health care providers accountable for quality and cost of healthcare for beneficiaries in traditional fee-for-service care. Service quality is tied to an ACO’s rating.
Mr. Blum said that prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), fifteen percent of Medicare beneficiaries were in four or five star plans. It is now more difficult to meet the requirements of being labeled a four or five star plan, but CMS projects that by 2015 more than half of beneficiaries in private plans will be in a high ranking plan.
My highlight from the conference was the large amount of content that involved the ACA. Almost every session I attended mentioned the ACA in one way or another, whether it be transitioning from a healthcare exchange to Medicare or the impact the ACA is having on long term care services. The final session, given by David Lillesand, focused solely on the ACA and addressed many common complaints such as, “my insurance plan is skyrocketing” and “why do men have to have maternity coverage?”
Mr. Lillesand also discussed the impact the ACA will have on personal injury law, since a large percentage of personal injury claims often goes toward future medical costs associated with having preexisting conditions and no longer being able to find coverage. With preexisting conditions no longer affecting coverage, the amount awarded in personal injury suits may decrease drastically.
It was such a wonderful experience being surrounded by elder law experts and having the opportunity to listen to them speak about topics that are so relevant. I left the conference feeling very inspired and excited to enter the field of elder law.
--by Regan Bovee (JD expected December 2013, William MItchell College of Law)
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Man, how very cool is this!!! Via the Pittsburgh Tribune:
The Pittsburgh region's top prosecutor and one of its top businesswomen have created a $1 million endowment that will support the University of Pittsburgh's Elder Law Clinic.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton and his wife, Dawne Hickton, president and CEO of RTI International Metals named the endowment in honor of David Hickton's late mother, Gloria McDermott Hickton.
Gloria McDermott Hickton was an actress, a South Hills real estate agent for 35 years and one of the first members of the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Organization for Women, according to her obituary. She died in April 2013.
David and Dawne Hickton met while they were students at Pitt's law school.
The clinic's law students represent low-income senior citizens facing legal problems. William M. Carter Jr., dean of Pitt's law school, said the endowment helps meet the school's goals of providing students with practical experience and providing community service.
And to learn more about Pitt's elder law clinic, go here.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
After P.S. Ramachandran turned 80, he and his wife decided it was time to stop living alone. Rather than take the traditional path of moving in with their son, the Ramachandrans chose an option once rare in India: a retirement community. “We wanted to be independent,” said Ramachandran, now 85, a former government official who moved to the Brindavan Senior Citizen Foundation’s retirement village overlooking the Nilgiri hills near Coimbatore city in southern India. “We have company and everything we need here, and activities to keep us busy as long as we’re physically able.”
Rising wealth from the region’s rapid growth in recent decades is changing the way many Asians grow old, breaking up the traditional family unit as children move to the cities or go abroad in search of better-paid jobs. The change is a new source of business for companies from India’s Tata Housing Development Co., Malaysia Pacific Corp. and Singapore’s ECON Healthcare Group, which are constructing retirement villages for the wealthy that offer cafes, tennis courts and yoga. The developers are following companies from adult-diaper makers to holiday operators that have swooped in on Asia’s silver economy, catering to the region’s growing cohorts of over-60s.
Excluding Japan, the market will be worth about $2 trillion by 2017 -- more than the current Indian economy -- according to Singapore-based market researcher Ageing Asia Pte. Filial Piety “Filial piety is still big in Asia, but it has less of a role now,” said Janice Chia, founder and managing director at Ageing Asia. “My grandparents were satisfied with staying home, watching a bit of TV, walking in the park and looking after the grandkids. But my parents want to travel, keep their minds active and don’t necessarily want to live with their children.”
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
(Reuters) - Wearing her favourite black dress, 53-year-old Liu Fenqin sat nervously in a corner at an official match-making event in Shanghai, hoping to find a husband after her first marriage ended in divorce more than 10 years earlier. With China's divorce rate rising, Liu was one of thousands of middle-aged and senior lonely hearts who took part in the annual event sponsored by the Shanghai government after the upper age limit was raised from 45 to 60 this year. The event, which drew 30,000 people last year, attracted an estimated 40,000 this year after organisers lifted the age limit to satisfy demand from the growing number of divorcees, said Xu Tianli, vice chairman of the Shanghai Matchmaking Agency Management Association.
With some people there in their 60s and even 70s, the age limit was not absolute. Divorce rates in China have climbed for seven years in a row. In 2012, the year-on-year rise in divorces outpaced that of marriages for the first time, according to official data. The Chinese city with the highest divorce rate is Beijing, at 39 percent, according to local media. The issue has not escaped the notice of China's government, which is concerned that broken homes will erode social stability. "It's likely that children from divorced families will become social outcasts and vagrants. So it does have a negative impact on society." To mend ailing marriages and encourage senior singles to date, China has introduced a range of measures.
Via the Chicago Tribune:
As Vietnam veterans age, many discover they have more time to contemplate their lives. The time for reflection — as well as retirement, reunions with war buddies and the deaths of loved ones — can stir memories from a long-ago war. An estimated 2.7 million men and women served in Vietnam; Their average age is 64, according to Vietnam Veterans of America. "Most are approaching retirement," said Tom Berger, director of the health council at Vietnam Veterans of America. "Once they retire, their spouse has passed and the kids have left home, without that structure, they begin to think about things." Anniversary dates and holidays such as Veterans Day may begin to bother people. But even when a veteran seeks treatment late in life, experts say, in many cases the post-traumatic stress disorder had been there all along.
That was likely the case for Steve Aoyagi, 63, of Des Plaines, who said that when he returned from war, he struggled with anger and anxiety. To deal with those feelings, he said, "I buried myself in my work. I worked 50 to 60 hours a week. A lot of overtime. Whatever time I didn't spend at work, I would occupy myself with my kids." When a neuromuscular disorder forced him to retire in 2002, he began thinking more about the war. "I started having nightmares about the time I spent in Vietnam. The bombs we dropped, the people who were left behind, my best friend getting killed, not being there for him." When his son deployed to Afghanistan, Aoyagi began to dream of the body bags that were once loaded onto his C-130 aircraft in Vietnam. In his dreams, he looked down at one of the bags and realized it carried the body of his son.
Now, he goes to group therapy three times a week at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. "The way that I'm dealing with my PTSD now — this is so true for the others — is by occupying my time," he said. "Keeping busy keeps me going."
Memories form a complex web of images and emotions. It's hard to know how one event might trigger recollections from decades before, experts say. At Lovell, more Vietnam veterans are reporting symptoms of late-onset PTSD. "I think that's due to the fact that Vietnam veterans are at an age when they're experiencing more loss and all the life changes that can be triggers," said Anthony Peterson, who runs the center's treatment programs for post-traumatic stress. The passing of a spouse can stoke feelings of survivor guilt. A serious illness can force a veteran to confront death in the same way he once did in Vietnam.
Monday, November 11, 2013
The Future of Public Health Law Education Faculty Fellowship
The faculty fellowship opportunity described below is open to senior, mid-level, and junior faculty (minimum of three years of full-time teaching experience) affiliated with law schools or schools/programs of public health. Following a 10-day summer institute in Park City, Utah, in July 2014, fellows will return to their home institutions for their fellowship year (2014-2015) to develop their proposals to enhance the teaching of public health law.
Applications for this unique professional development opportunity are due Friday, December 13, 2013 (recommendation letters are due Friday, December 6, 2013). For complete details, visit www.law.gsu.edu/PHLFellowship.
Applications are invited for 10 faculty fellowships in public health law education.
Georgia State University College of Law and its Center for Law, Health & Society are leading an initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a faculty fellowship program to promote public health law education. Ten faculty members from law schools or schools/programs of public health will be selected to participate in a yearlong fellowship program designed to foster innovations in educational programming (including clinical, externship, and other experiential learning) and to build a strong learning community among faculty who teach in the public health law field.
All fellows, with their deans’ support, will design and implement a project for curricular change in public health law education at their home institutions. Each fellow will be paired with a faculty mentor in public health law. The fellows will begin their fellowship year by attending an intensive 10-day educational Summer Institute on July 16-26, 2014 in Park City, Utah. Over the course of the academic 2014-2015 fellowship year, the fellows and their mentors will regularly share ideas, experiences and models for public health law teaching, providing opportunities for professional growth and leadership development.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Please click here to answer eight short questions to help NLRC develop programs and resources to help you help your clients.
The survey will close on December 2, 2013.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Since 1999, Remembering When has been implemented in communities throughout North America to help thousands of older adults learn strategies to help them live safely at home for as long as possible. The program’s foundation remains the same: the 16 key safety messages–eight fire prevention and eight fall prevention–developed by experts from national and local safety organizations and focus group testing in high fire-risk states. The program will continue to be implemented through group presentations, home visits, and as part of smoke alarm installation and fall intervention programs. All of the revised training materials are available online.
“Over the next decades, the population of older adults will increase dramatically,” said Karen Berard-Reed, senior project manager for NFPA. “The new version targets adults who are just entering their older years. We hope to encourage these ‘younger’ older adults to develop important safety habits that will carry them through their senior years and help those around them develop safer behaviors.”
Representatives of fire departments and home visit agencies across the United States and Canada that have been chosen to participate in the Remembering When conference December 1-3, 2013 in Boston, will be the first trained with updated materials.
Photo by Kim Dayton. All rights reserved.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Following up on Becky's post--this is old news, but it is Old News Worth Repeating: the SAFE Minnesota phone/Iphone app
During their spring 2013 semester in my Elder Justice and Policy Keystone course, students wrote an elder abuse application called “SAFE MN.” The app is intended for use by law enforcement officials, first responders, mandated reporters, and laypersons who encounter possible abuse or exploitation of a vulnerable adult or older person. The app provides information about the signs and symptoms of abuse, hotline numbers, and other resources that will help identify abuse and abusers, allow for reporting and, in appropriate cases, facilitate prosecution. Keystone students compiled and organized the app’s substantive content, and Chris , who was a programmer prior to law school and has written a number of apps, wrote the code.
Although the app was intended for use in Minnesota, much of its content is generic. The app is free, and available for download both from Google Play (Android) and from Apple.
Desiree Toldt, who will graduate from Mitchell in May 2014, also wrote a paper that serves as a step-by-step guide to others interested in replicating the app in their own jurisdictions. To obtain a copy of the paper, contact me (use email link in my bio, below).
Kudos to these students for their outstanding work!
The Jordan Liebhaber Scholarship Fund and Elder Decisions are jointly sponsoring a scholarship for young adults between the ages of 18 to 30 to attend an Elder Decisions Elder / Adult Family Mediation Training.
The Jordan Liebhaber Scholarship Fund was created in loving memory of Jordan Washor Liebhaber, May 22, 1986 - March 29, 2013, with the intention to carry forward Jordan's clear values and good works to help make the world a better, more caring place for our elders. The fund seeks to help young adults with interest in the elder services field.
If you or someone you know is between the ages of 18 to 30, a trained mediator, and interested in participating in Elder Mediation Training held in Newton, MA, please submit an application directly to the fund (a link to the application is below). The selected applicant(s) may enroll in an upcoming Elder Decisions training (on a space-available basis) at a rate of $75, with the remaining registration fee shared equally by The Jordan Liebhaber Scholarship Fund and Elder Decisions. (Note that transportation and lodging, if applicable, are additional.)
Download the application here:
www.mediate.com/elderdecisions/docs/Application for the Jordan Liebhaber Scholarship.pdf
Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with the first round due no later than October 15th, 2013. Applications for other uses of the scholarship fund are also welcome.
For more information about the fund, please visit www.bnaior.org/JLscholarship.html.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Sweden is the best place in the world to be old and Afghanistan the worst, according to a UN-backed global study. The Global AgeWatch Index examined the quality of life of the elderly in 91 countries. It warns that many countries do not have adequate support in place for their ageing populations. By 2050, older people will outnumber children under 15 for the first time, with most of the elderly in developing countries, it said. The Global AgeWatch Index was complied by the UN Population Fund and advocacy group HelpAge International, and released to mark the UN's Day of Older Persons. Researchers used 13 different indicators - including income and employment, health provision, education, and environment - in what they said was the first study of kind to be conducted on a global scale. The study's authors say countries across the world face an ongoing challenge from the rapidly ageing global population.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
- Get some exercise. Lack of exercise can lead to weak legs and this increases the chances of falling. Exercise programs like Tai Chi can increase strength and improve balance, making falls much less likely.
- Be mindful of medications. Some medicines—or combinations of medicines—can have side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. This can make falling more likely. Having a doctor or pharmacist review all medications can help reduce the chance of risky side effects and drug interactions.
- Keep their vision sharp. Poor vision can make it harder to get around safely. To help make sure they're seeing clearly, older adults should have their eyes checked every year and wear glasses or contact lenses with the right prescription strength.
- Eliminate hazards at home. About half of all falls happen at home. A home safety check can help identify potential fall hazards that need to be removed or changed, like tripping hazards, clutter, and poor lighting.
- Install handrails and lights on all staircases.
- Remove things you can trip over (like papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
- Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
- Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
- Put grab bars inside and next to the tub or shower and next to your toilet.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
- Improve the lighting in your home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to see well. Hang light-weight curtains or shades to reduce glare.
- Wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.