Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Highlights from Touro Conference on Aging, Health, Equity, and the Law (9.13.21)

Touro College's Jacob Fuschberg Law Center hosted a fabulous half-day, interdisciplinary program on Aging, Health, Equity and the Law.  Among the highlights:

  • A perfect kickoff with opening remarks on the theme of the conference from Syracuse Law Professor Nina Kohn, who outlined the civil rights of older persons, reminding us of existing laws and the potential for legal reforms;
  •  A unique "property law" perspective on the importance of careful planning about ownership or rights of use, in order to maximize the safety and goals of the older person, provided by Professor Lior Strahilevitz from University of Chicago Law School;  
  • Several sessions formed the heart of the conference by taking on enormously difficult topics arising in the context of Covid-19 about access to health care, including what I found to be a fascinating perspective from Professor Barbara Pfeffer Billauer  from her recent work in Israel. She started with an interesting introduction of three specific pandemic responses she's identified in her research. She then focused on how "Policy Pariah-itizing" has had a negative effect on health care for older adults, with examples from Israel, Italy, and China.  I was also deeply impressed by the candid presentations of several direct care providers, including nursing care professionals Esperanza Sanchez and Nelda Godfrey, about the ethical issues and practical pressures they are experiencing; 
  • Illinois Law Professor Dick Kaplan offered  timely perspectives on incorporating cultural sensitivity in Elder Law Courses.  His slides had great context, drawing in part from an article he published about ten years ago at 40 Stetson Law Review 15;
  • Real world examples about tough end-of-life decisions involving family members and/or formally appointed surrogates, with Deirdre Lock and Tristan Sullivan-Wilson from the Weinberg Center for Elder Justice leading breakout groups for discussions.

I know I'm failing to mention other great sessions (there were simultaneous tracks and I was playing a bit of leap-frog).  But the good news is we can keep our eyes out for the Touro Law Review compilation of the articles from this conference, scheduled for Spring 2022 publication.  I know it was a big lift to pull off the conference in the middle of the fall semester.  Thank you!

September 14, 2021 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, International, Property Management, Science | Permalink

Friday, September 10, 2021

Bringing Voices of the Public into Classrooms: Lessons from Ireland and 9/11

Dr. Joe Duffy Honored October 2014A number of years ago, I had an especially wonderful sabbatical experience with the help of  the U.S. Fulbright Program that provided opportunities to conduct research in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Queen's University Belfast was my host institution, and there I met Professor Joe Duffy (on the left), who was working in social work, aging services and law.  We have become forever friends, as well as co-workers on several projects.  

One of the key educational concepts I learned from Joe's work was the importance of involving service users in the classroom, as well as in research.  I experienced this as a "student" in Northern Ireland as I listened to speakers with Loyalist (Unionist) and Republican (Nationalist) perspectives on the historic "Troubles" in Ireland.   I'd been working for years with U.S. law school clinics, which are inherently involved with "user" (client) voices, but when I returned from my time in Belfast I began to more actively include older adults in my doctrinal classes, usually as guest speakers about a particular case or experience.  I confess, however, that I've drifted away a bit from that, but today I have a fresh reminder of why it is important to bring clients into the classroom.

Joe Duffy did his own Fulbright-sabbatical in the U.S. recently, and as part of that experience he worked at NYU with social work students and survivors of 9/11.   This week, Queen's University offers Joe's detailed written account of how the NYU team planned carefully for including survivors as speakers in the classroom, and how the experiences were valuable for everyone.  We can -- and I believe should -- remember to make time for similar outreach and listening exercises with students in law school.  Here's a brief taste from Joe's experience with bringing 9/11 survivors into the classroom:

I knew from the beginning that trust building was at the heart of this process. I was indeed mindful of this throughout, where would I start in terms of asking people to share such difficult and personal experiences? The answer was to start with the people themselves and to create a safe environment where people felt valued and respected.  In planning, we met as a group over a number of weeks and decided how the programme would evolve. Every aspect was therefore co-produced and together we agreed the following questions as the basis for the Conversation:

  1. Can you share with these students a summary of your experiences from 9/11?
  2. To what extent does the aftermath of such a traumatic event still impact on your life today and others close to you?
  3. How has this experience affected your identity?
  4. What sort of help did you receive to support you after these experiences?
  5. What are the skills that these students need to focus on when helping an individual cope with trauma related issues and also what are the behaviours they should avoid?
  6. What are the students take away messages from today.

The 90-minute classes ran for three consecutive weeks with two/three group participants joining me each week with the students. The students listened attentively and respectfully to the dialogue and there was total silence in the classroom, such was the emotional magnitude of the atmosphere. After each class we gathered for a coffee at a nearby café which helped the group support each other and reflect on what we had learned from the process.

I encourage you to read Joe's full article, Changed Lives: Voices from 9/11 in the Classroom.  The voices of both survivors and students are captured succinctly here -- and provide wonderful reminders of the importance of a simple (or, perhaps not-so-simple) skill that all lawyers need to cultivate, the ability to listen.  That seems especially relevant as a reminder during the 20th anniversary of 9/11.  

September 10, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Legal Practice/Practice Management | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 23, 2021

Nurse Robots?

There have been stories of late about shortages of nurses, for various reasons. For example, NPR reported, Hospitals Face A Shortage Of Nurses As COVID Cases Soar. So, then a dear friend and colleague of mine today sent me a link to this story: Meet Grace, the ultra-lifelike nurse robot.  Grace, developed by a robotic company in Hong Kong, is "a humanoid robot it hopes will revolutionize healthcare.... Designed as an assistant for doctors, Grace is equipped with sensors, including a thermal camera to detect a patient's temperature and pulse, to help doctors diagnose illness and deliver treatments....The android is a companion for patients, too. Specializing in senior care, Grace speaks three languages -- English, Mandarin, and Cantonese -- and can socialize and conduct talk therapy."  The company expects to start large scale production of this robot and another robot by year's end. The article notes that this robot is attended to assist, not supplant, health care providers.  There's an accompanying video, which includes a brief clip of the robot showing Tai Chi moves to the reporter.  The robot at one point responds that her specialization is in "senior care." I don't know what the cost will be of such a robot and what patient load it can handle. Plus, I'm not sure about the lack of human connections in caregiving.  We'll have to wait to see whether the robot is at least a partial solution to the caregiving and nursing shortages.

 

August 23, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 1, 2021

As Covid-19 Eases, Is Germany Again Seeking "Filial Support" (Elternunterhalt) Payments from Children?

It has been a while since I've written a "Filial Friday" post.  After more than a year of no calls or requests for information about "Elternunterhalt" payments in Germany, in the last 45 days I've heard from three sets of American citizens who recently received requests for financial contributions to the care of an aging parent in Germany.  In each of the instances, the adult children had never heard of Germany's parental maintenance laws before receiving the demand.   

Since last writing about elternunterhalt on this Elder Law Prof Blog (see here and here), I've learned about some changes to the German laws.  

First,  Germany adopted a threshold annual income for a potentially obligated child of at least 100,000 Euros, effective for claims after January 1, 2020.

Second, it appears that Germany has also clarified that only the adult child's income is considered in determining the amount of the potential support obligation.  In the past, the German authorities would routinely ask for "all" income and asset information for the child and any spouse or partner.  

For more on this, see this article and another article, from Germany, describing these changes as "reforms."  Germany's renewed use of filial support laws began with a ruling by the Federal Court on June 23, 2002.  "The legal basis is mainly Section 1601 and 1602 Paragraph 1 BGB," according to a third article.  

While I've often seen "claim letters" submitted to adult children living in the U.S., I've never seen a formal administrative proceeding or court proceeding to enforce such a claim if not paid voluntarily. In some instances, I've seen German authorities agree to drop the claim, usually because there is strong evidence that the now needy-parent neglected or mistreated the child while the child was a minor.  I have also sometimes seen a voluntary settlement between the U.S. child and the German authorities.  But, have  any of our readers seen a litigated outcome in a cross-border claim?  Do we have any attorneys reading this blog with experience with cross-border claims between the U.S. and Germany?   

July 1, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Elders in China Have to Delay Retirement?

A few weeks ago the New York Times ran an article regarding the need for delayed retirement on the part of many Chinese elders. A Graying China May Have to Put Off Retirement. Workers Aren’t Happy, notes that the "Chinese government said it would raise the mandatory retirement age, which is currently 60 for men."  Why, you ask, did China announce this unpopular plan? Because, according to the article, this phased-in "delay [of] the legal retirement age” over the next five years, [is] an attempt to address one of the country’s most pressing issues. Its rapidly aging population means a shrinking labor force. State pension funds are at risk of running out. And China has some of the lowest retirement ages in the world: 50 for blue-collar female workers, 55 for white-collar female workers, and 60 for most men."  The article notes other countries that have taken a similar approach and the bumpy road in doing so.  It also notes that this was a problem decades in the making.  There are ramifications of this approach (beyond unhappy workers), including "[the risk of] undermining another major government priority: encouraging couples to have more children, to slow the aging of the population."

Stay tuned.

May 27, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Other, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Global Report on Ageism

The World Health Organization released the Global Report on Ageism, which "outlines a framework for action to reduce ageism including specific recommendations for different actors (e.g. government, UN agencies, civil society organizations, private sector). It brings together the best available evidence on the nature and magnitude of ageism, its determinants and its impact. It outlines what strategies work to prevent and counter ageism, identifies gaps and proposes future lines of research to improve our understanding of ageism."

The executive summary is available here, discussing nature, scale, determinants, and impact of ageism, as well as strategies to reduce it and suggestions for actions. The entire 202 page report is available here.

March 25, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, International, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Roundup on Nursing Home Articles

First, have you read this article from the New York Times? Maggots, Rape and Yet Five Stars: How U.S. Ratings of Nursing Homes Mislead the Public

Twelve years ago, the U.S. government introduced a powerful new tool to help people make a wrenching decision: which nursing home to choose for loved ones at their most vulnerable. Using a simple star rating — one being the worst, five the best — the system promised to distill reams of information and transform an emotional process into one based on objective, government-blessed metrics.

The star system quickly became ubiquitous, a popular way for consumers to educate themselves and for nursing homes to attract new customers. During the coronavirus pandemic, with many locked-down homes unavailable for prospective residents or their families to see firsthand, the ratings seemed indispensable.

But a New York Times investigation, based on the most comprehensive analysis of the data that powers the ratings program, found that it is broken.

Then, a couple days later, another article from the New York Times, this time about California, California Sues Nursing Home Chain, Saying It Manipulated Ratings System

California prosecutors sued the country’s largest chain of senior living communities on Monday, accusing the company, Brookdale Senior Living, of manipulating the federal government’s nursing-home ratings system.

* * * 

The lawsuit is among the first of its kind to accuse nursing homes of submitting false information to Medicare’s ratings program. The system assigns stars — one being the worst, five being the best — to the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes.

Health News Florida explained that COVID Cases Plummet 83% Among Nursing Home Staffers Despite Vaccine Hesitancy, "Federal records show a steep decline in staff cases since December, when health care workers at thousands of nursing homes began getting their shots. Still, many are reluctant to get vaccinated."

Then, this New York Times article from Canada,  Elderly, Vaccinated and Still Lonely and Locked Inside

Long-term care homes, as they are called in Canada, were prioritized for the first precious doses of vaccines, to few objections — they were ground zero for the pandemic’s cruel ravage. Around 66 percent of the country’s terminal Covid-19 victims lived in nursing homes, among the highest rates in the world.

But while the vaccines have given the majority of nursing-home residents protection from death by the virus, so far they have not offered more life....

March 24, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Vatican: Rethink How Care for Elders

Recently released: The Vatican wants the world to rethink how it cares for the elderly after Covid-19 ‘massacre’.

The Vatican is calling for a new paradigm of care for older people after what it calls the "massacre" wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately killed people living in nursing homes.

The Vatican's Pontifical Council of Life issued a position paper Tuesday that made the case for a global rethink of how to care for people in their final years, including resisting any rush to institutional care in favor of adapting home environments to the needs of people as they age.

Calling for visionary thinking to develop a new way of providing care for elders,  "[t]he document praised new models of assisted living that provide companionship and care where needed but, in preserving autonomy and independence, fall short of an institutional facility. And it called for greater assistance to families who are able to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible."

February 17, 2021 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, International, Other, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 28, 2020

Santa's Grandkids Reach Out to SNF Residents

We all need good news these days.  So here's one story for the holidays that should make you smile. Santa’s ‘Grandchildren’ Spread Joy In Italian Nursing Homes explains the Santa's grandkids project:

Despite a grim year marked by death and loneliness, the holiday spirit is descending on the Zanchi nursing home, one of the first in Italy to shut its doors to visitors after a COVID-19 case was confirmed in the nearby hospital on Feb. 23.

The bearers of glad tidings were the so-called “grandchildren of Santa Claus,” people who answered a charity’s call to spread cheer to elderly nursing home residents, many of whom live far from their families or don’t have any family members left.

The program, in its third year, continues to grow in popularity, with  almost 6000 gits distributed to 228 SNFs.  The featured nursing home had 43 residents participating which included virtual visits with Santa's grandkids, during which the SNF residents opened presents.  It is worth noting that the volunteer grandkids also benefited from participating in the project.

Well done everyone!

 

 

December 28, 2020 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Hugs in Time for Christmas

A couple of days ago, the Washington Post ran an uplifting article about a hug room in a SNF.  After months of isolation, a ‘hug room’ lets Italian nursing home residents touch family for the first time tells us about "a 7-foot-tall piece of plexiglass, molded into a three-sided booth. It had four cutout holes, where protective sleeves would be added for arms. It was known, in the strange language of the pandemic, as a “hug room,” but it was less a room than a barrier: residents on one side, relatives on the other."  Although not as ideal as living in a COVID free world (or at least a vaccinated one), this "plexiglass represented the sort of modest step some nursing homes are now taking in a year when they have faced excruciating decisions about how protective to be and how best to reduce their risks."  The article references similar efforts taken by other SNFs.

A  little bit of good news, then, for Christmas.

PS: Florida announced that the second round of vaccines will go to those 70 and older, and Texas, to those 65+ and older.

PPS-remember to thank first responders, health care professionals and all who keep us safe and going through this trying time. Stay safe and stay healthy.

 

December 24, 2020 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 18, 2020

Spain's Parliament Votes to Legalize Euthanasia

According to a story yesterday in the AP news, Spain’s parliament vote[d] to legalize euthanasia. The bill provides for medical aid-in-dying or euthanasia "for long-suffering patients of incurable diseases or unbearable permanent conditions." The bill next goes to their Senate. The article notes that                       "[e]uthanasia — when a doctor directly administers fatal drugs to a patient — is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In some U.S. states, medically-assisted suicide — where patients administer the lethal drug themselves, under medical supervision — is permitted." The bill requires multiple requests by the patient, the first 2 of which must be written and made with two weeks between the requests.  Medical professionals must be involved and requests are reviewed and granted by a regional oversight board. Only adult Spanish residents or citizens who can make rational decisions would be able to make such requests.

 

 

December 18, 2020 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 30, 2020

Taking Grandma Home; But What Happens When Grandma Goes Back to the SNF?

Last week with Thanksgiving, some families took their elders from the SNFs to be home for the holiday.  But if grandma then goes back to the SNF, is she bringing a hitchhiker with her (COVID).  The Tampa Bay Times discussed this in their article a few days before Thanksgiving, Residents may leave Florida facilities for Thanksgiving, could bring coronavirus back reminds us that "[a]state executive order issued in October mandates that facilities allow residents to visit their families’ homes. Experts and advocates worry that the state has not simultaneously put in place more safety protocols."  Since the state doesn't require testing of residents,  so as residents return to facilities and aren't tested, we just don't know how this is going to play out.  "[T]he Florida Health Care Association ...  reminded its member facilities that families should take coronavirus precautions if they bring their loved ones home ...  [and while] not required, some facilities may test residents upon their return or isolate them,...  and all homes will screen residents for coronavirus symptoms and potential exposure."

And on a somewhat related note, the following story from Canada examines the situation of elders who were taken home at the beginning of the pandemic. Pulled from care homes during pandemic, these seniors thrived — highlighting 'urgent' need for change: expert, 

notes that some elders have improved when taken home, but the decision to do so has many things to consider, such as the family members' ability to provide the needed care. Two of the folks interviewed for the story express frustration with what they see as elected officials' failure to resolve the problems in long-term care.  

Thanks to my dear friend and colleague Professor Feeley for sending me the link to the second story.

 

November 30, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Future of Long Term Care Facilities Globally, Post-COVID

The Washington Post recently published an article examining the future of long term care facilities around the world, As covid-19 cases surge, global study paints grim picture for elder-care homes.

There are few easy lessons. In many countries, the trend is hard to escape: The larger the coronavirus outbreak in an area, the more deaths elder-care facilities there can expect to see, according to the results of an ongoing transnational research project, which published new data this week.

Across 26 countries, elder-care home residents have accounted for an average of 47 percent of recorded coronavirus deaths, according to data collected by the International Long-Term Care Policy Network, a global collaboration between academics and policymakers.

With the cases rising again, will the death toll in facilities rise as well? We know that residents of SNFs are more frail, but what causes such a high death rate is the subject of ongoing research according to the article. Because of the lack of or variations in data with various countries, "[t]he only true metric for understanding the impact of covid-19 on elder-care homes is to look at the total number of deaths among residents and compare the change over previous years, but that data is rarely published...."

Countries tried various approaches, some with success, some without.  But what works? "[I]t can be hard to isolate tactics that work. In some facilities in Spain and Britain, having staff live on site and submit to frequent testing appears to have helped keep the virus out. In the United States, rapid response teams that isolate patients and take them to hospitals have been helpful in limiting the virus’s spread."  Tactics don't come without tradeoffs, however. For example, restricting visitation may protect residents but the isolation has a negative impact.

Will there be significant and long-lasting changes to the way we provide long-term care?  "Elder-care facilities may see significant changes — and not just in the short term. The International Long-Term Care Policy Network predicts higher costs and lower demand for elder-care services may not be a blip but could last for 'many years to come.'"

October 20, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

New Fact Sheet from National Center on Elder Abuse

The National Center on Elder Abuse has released a new fact sheet,  Communicating with
People with Limited English Proficiency. Here are a few of their tips:

We encourage the use of these best practice tips to aid your communication efforts:
• When anticipating a need to hire a new role on your team, screen for bilingual or multilingual candidates.
• Identify members among your team who speak other languages who you know can assist with outreach when connecting with people who speak different languages.
• Establish a list of translated basic phrases, such as “Do you speak English?”.
• If someone is contacting you by phone and has reception issues (Are they trying to reach you from somewhere remote or out of the country?), try to obtain as much information as possible to contact the person back, in the hopes of establishing a clearer second communication attempt.
• For people requesting information with language barriers or who may be hard-of-hearing, slow down your speaking pace, pronounce words clearly, and repeat phrases when necessary.

The full list of tips is available here.

October 1, 2020 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Swedish Housing Experiment

A recent article in The Guardian highlighted a housing experiment in Sweden that combats loneliness,  'It's like family': the Swedish housing experiment designed to cure loneliness. (If you don't have an account with The Guardian, you need to register, but there is no fee).

The project, known as Sällbo,  is 

[A] radical experiment in multigenerational living in Helsingborg, a small port city in southern Sweden. Its name is a portmanteau of the Swedish words for companionship (sällskap) and living (bo), and neatly encapsulates the project’s goals – to combat loneliness and promote social cohesion by giving residents incentives, and the spaces, for productive interaction.

Sällbo, which opened last November, consists of 51 apartments spread over four floors of a refurbished retirement home. More than half of the 72 residents are over 70s, like Ahlsten and Bacharach; the rest are aged 18-25. All were selected after an extensive interview process to ensure a mix of personalities, backgrounds, religions, and values, and all had to sign a contract promising to spend at least two hours a week socialising with their neighbours.

Not only was this project designed to combat isolation amongst Sweden's elders, it also was designed to respond to "the 2015 refugee crisis [which] meant organisations like Helsingsborgshem were under pressure to house growing numbers of people who were struggling to integrate with – and win acceptance from – Swedish society. So a plan was hatched to mix the two, with younger Swedish people acting “as a bridge."  So far the reports of the project's success have been positive despite the hurdles of starting a new endeavor in these times (think COVID). Information about the services, costs, etc. are available here.

Thanks to my colleague and dear friend, Professor Bauer, for bringing this article to me.

September 21, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Housing, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 11, 2020

Legal Issues in Using AI for Caregiving

Computer Weekly recently addressed the legal issues that may occur when using technology for caregiving AI may be a solution to the social care crisis, but what are the legal concerns?,  looks at the caregiving situation in the U.K.  Building on the story from yesterday about the robot "Pepper" who can carry on conversations, the article highlights some legal issues, such as an individual's privacy. 

Consider this-the robot could report concerns about abuse, for example, "the technology might provide a report, supported by video evidence, to family members or those with the legal responsibility of care, such as attorneys or deputies, who can then review such material. It can easily become part of a care home contract to consent to such filming, although it is vital that this is handled in a sensitive manner and regularly deleted to ensure that a resident’s privacy is protected." The article notes concerns about "sensitive personal data." Would residents provide consent? Who would consent if a resident lacks capacity. As the article concludes, "[W]e must never forget who is at the heart of these considerations, and the legal framework needs to catch up with the technology to protect them and for it to have a viable chance of success."

Thanks to Professor Feeley for sending me this article.

September 11, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Other, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Lonely? Robot Companions May Help

The Guardian recently published an article about the use of robots in long term care facilities to combat loneliness of residents. Robots to be used in UK care homes to help reduce loneliness describes the roll these robots can play in interacting with residents.  These are not your "normal" robots, but then I don't know what one would consider a "normal" robot. These robots, on wheels, "called “Pepper”, move independently and gesture with robotic arms and hands and are designed to be “culturally competent”, which means that after some initial programming they learn about the interests and backgrounds of care home residents. This allows them to initiate rudimentary conversations, play residents’ favourite music, teach them languages, and offer practical help including medicine reminders."  The researchers not that these robots do not replace human caregivers but instead supplement them.  The robots were tested in the U.K. and Japan and researchers found that those residents who spent time with the robots for "18 hours across two weeks had a significant improvement in their mental health. There was a small but positive impact on loneliness severity among users and the system did not increase feelings of loneliness...." 

Robots, whether "Pepper" or others, do have limitations--for example, they aren't human.  The article reports some of the limitations mentioned, such as their chats with residents were lacking some depth, were impersonal and lacked cultural awareness. Their movements were, shall we say, robotic. But imagine, a robot that can hold a conversation with you.  This can be a great tool, to supplement human caregivers!

Thanks to Professor Feeley for sending me the article.

September 10, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Other, Science | Permalink

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Are Older Adults Now the Proverbial Canaries in the Global Mines?

During an AALS-sponsored online "hang-out" session this week, the featured host, Syracuse Law Professor Nina Kohn, helped faculty think about better ways to conduct online courses, including Elder Law.  We also talked about our research projects for the summer.  Nina commented that she has never before had "so much to write about and so little time to do so," which I suspect has something to do with her wonderfully active children!  But, I also think that most of us in the AALS Section on Law and Aging are feeling the same way.  It is as if our client base -- older persons -- are at the epicenter of so much tragedy.  Sadly, the COVID-19 illness has hugely impacted older persons, as documented frequently on this Blog.  

And now the news that in Japan, seasonal rains that have become steadily worse over the years for reasons associated with climate change, have triggered extraordinary flooding, resulting in the drowning deaths of many elders in their nursing homes or while trying to shelter at home.  From the New York Times article, Japan's Deadly Combination: Climate Change and an Aging Society:yAlthough the Japanese gird every June and July for the rainy season — known as tsuyu — this year the rainfall has set records in Kyushu, with more rain expected to blanket central Japan by the end of this week.

 

Older residents accustomed to year after year of summer rains may believe they know how to ride out the downpours at home. Yet they may not understand the growing severity of the rains or the increased dangers of flooding.

 

“Under the emerging impact of global warming, there is an increasing risk or potential that rainfall amounts could be at a level that we haven’t experienced in the past,” Professor Nakamura said. “So I think that citizens must realize that their previous experience may no longer work. We have to act even earlier or faster than what we have experienced in the past.”

 

Evacuation itself can pose a risk to the elderly. Conditions in evacuation centers inevitably fall short of those in nursing homes designed for old-age care. For the frailest patients, the moves can cause injury or destabilize long-term care plans....

 

In the case of the Senjuen nursing home, Aki Goto, its director, told The Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun, a local newspaper, that she had been more concerned about mudslides than flooding. When the waters came, she added, the caregivers could not move quickly enough to move all the residents upstairs.

 

Six of the workers were on call the night of the floods last weekend, the newspaper reported. That still left each caregiver in charge of more than 10 aging residents, some of whom were unable to walk without help. Even with the aid of local volunteers, they could not bring everyone to safety upstairs as the floodwaters rapidly rose and deluged the ground floor.

Whether it is hurricanes in the Carribean and US, wildfires in western US states, extraordinary storms or unique diseases around the world, our elderly are often seeming to take the heaviest blows.  Isolated and with inadequate protective equipment or assistance, the pattern of "unexpected" deaths continue.  Unexpected?  

 

July 9, 2020 in Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Topics and Speakers Announced for AALS January 2021 Program on Intersectionality, Aging and the Law

Hard to believe we are scheduling for January 2021, isn't it!  Here's the scheduled speakers and topics for the co-hosted program during the AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco on "Intersectionality, Aging and the Law:"

July 2, 2020 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, International, Programs/CLEs, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Upcoming Webinar: Extreme Home Takeovers - Dealing with "Concerned" Relatives

On Monday, June 22, 2020, I'm joining the 3rd Annual Memorial Elder Abuse Sympsium hosted by Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma and being delivered as a webinar over the course of several sessions.  On Monday, the first set of speakers includes deeply experienced professionals in banking and securities, both potential avenues for elder fraud, as well as Judge Scott Roland of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.  I follow them with the topic "Extreme Home Takeovers - Dealing with Concerned Relatives" -- the clever title supplied by our hosts!  

I'll be offering comparative statutory and common law approaches for recovering a house. including my own experiences while supervising Dickinson Law's Elder Protection Clinic.  The need is usually triggered by a transaction often tied to the worries of the older person, hoping or believeing that a family member, friend or new "befriender" would be more likely to save them from the dreaded nursing home if they give the hoped-for-caregiver "the house."  I'll be using cases from Ireland, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma (of course) and beyond for strategies, and discussing everything from filial support laws, to improvident tranaction laws, to the common law concept of failure of consideration in "support deeds." 

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June 18, 2020 in Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, International, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)