Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Barbara Pfeffer Billauer: An International Perspective on Ageism in the Time of Corona

George Washington Law Professor Naomi Cahn recently shared a piece by Israel-based law and policy author Barbara Pfeffer Billauer on  "Al Tashlichaynu L'Et Zichna: Ageism in the Time of Corona."  This thoughtful piece begins with a theme I've been discussing with others, how close to dystopian science-fiction the last 10 weeks have seemed.  She makes the opening comparison of current policy-based decisions to the science-fiction movie Logan's Run, where the "acceptable" price paid for a civil society was a mandatory limit on life spans -- to just 30 years. Logans_run_movie_poster  Professor Pffeffer Billauer observes "In this world of COVID, the age of devitalization is a bit older. But us oldsters are subject to truncation just the same."

She continues:

It’s time to expose the flawed basis on which morbidly dystopic and discriminatory responses toward the aged have been become public health policy– both as a warning that initial and instinctive public health responses must be constantly re-evaluated and updated – and as an alert that discriminatory responses can be couched as public health concerns, even as their main purpose is to further political goals.

 

At first glance, “protection of the vulnerable” seems laudatory and compassionate. Nevertheless, this approach should trigger concerns of discrimination. In the case of age-related discrimination, the dangers are, perhaps, exacerbated, as those affected are more likely to just accept it. Others accept these pronouncements without delving into the “scientific” or epidemiological underpinnings of the pronouncements. Even worse, is that rationale that might, in actuality, be political can be camouflaged as nobly “helping the needy.” 

Professor Pfeffer Baillauer warns that even as governments begin to ease virus-related restrictions, in many instances "the 'vulnerable' (aka the elderly)" are still locked down, and that the "differential relaxation of lockdowns is problematic, both from legal and public health perspectives."

Based purely on early (and stagnant) reports, we bought into this protectivist age-related response: The elderly were — and are — to have their liberty disproportionately restricted –because they are considered “vulnerable”. It’s time to question this approach and unmask the rank discrimination behind it, or at the very least, reveal the dangers of blind acquiescence without serious inquiry into the scientific basis.

She questions the statistical basis for some governments' decisions to impose mandatory isolation:

The Italian debacle, notably lots of deaths, was attributed to their older population. But these pronouncements were based on gross, oversimplified statistical calculations. Germany, with a similar age distribution, suffered far fewer deaths. So did Japan, with a population even older than Italy’s . Compare the case-fatality in Italy of 14% (as of March 19) with that of Germany (at 4.5%), or the even older Japanese demographic with a similar case-fatality (4.7%). Basic tools of epidemiological assessment, such as standardized age-adjusted rates, appear not to have been performed to sustain the extrapolation of the Italian experience to other countries. Basic epidemiological constraints, such as the ecological fallacy, were never even considered.

 

But there is more to the misleading assertion that the elderly are at greater risk than just flawed statistics. The approach obscures the key question: greater risk of what? Of disease susceptibility, of spreading it to others – or of dying?

She is provocative.  She notes that if there is legitimacy to mandating isolation of the elderly based on nursing home statistics on infection and death, perhaps the same rule should be assigned to the "financially flush," such as those who make up the majority of cruise ship passenger rosters, whether or not they are embarked on an actual cruise.

For more, read the full blog post linked above.  For MUCH more, keep an eye on Barbara's SSRN account for her next piece. Thanks, Naomi, for another great share!

 

May 26, 2020 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, International, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

A Positive Headline about Age for a Troubled Time...

Visiting London's Horses 2019
At just about this time last year, I was in Europe and took a walking side trip to the Royal Mews, the stables for Buckingham Palace.  So, I smiled today when I happened to notice this Vanity Fair headline:  "The Queen is Riding Horses Every Day and Ready to Work Harder Than Ever" -- at age 94.  

May 17, 2020 in Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 4, 2020

Tuesday is #GivingTuesdayNow

Tuesday May 5 (tomorrow) is the annual #GivingTuesdayNow.  We all know how much others need assistance.  The American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education highlights the work that the ABA Commission on Law & Aging is doing 

 

Nursing homes and other senior living facilities are not the only places where COVID-19 is creating a health care crisis for nearly 2 million frail older adults and their care providers. Private homes are the other setting at risk for roughly 12 million older adults who receive both personal and post-acute care.

The ABA Commission on Law and Aging (COLA), a long-time authority on legal services for the elderly, offers comprehensive resources for caregivers at home and in nursing care facilities, like Ten Legal Tips for Caregivers and:
Important Guidance for Keeping Elderly Safe from Abuse During COVID-19
With older adults remaining in place as the coronavirus spreads into communities, the potential for isolation, self-isolation, quarantine and lock downs may increase risk factors for abuse, neglect and exploitation. For those who respond to such abuse, COLA’s summary of important health and safety guidelines will be invaluable.

On Tuesday, May 5th – #GivingTuesdayNow – the eldercare community will have the unique opportunity to support the Commission’s work, especially now with coronavirus posing an intensive threat to our seniors’ lives. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of generosity and unity, a day to come together and give back in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19, no matter who or where we are.

The link to make a donation is here.

Wondering how you can help others? This is how. Do it now.  Whether for the Commission, a food bank, a senior center, the Red Cross,  or another organization, do  it now!

May 4, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 30, 2020

AALS Call for Papers/Presenters on Intersectionality, Aging and the Law

The AALS Section on Law and Aging is joining forces with the Sections on Civil Rights, Disability Law, Family and Juvenile Law, Minority Groups. Poverty, Sexual Orientation, Gender-Identity Issues, Trusts & Estates and Women in Legal Education to host a program for the 2021 Annual Meeting, scheduled to take place in San Francisco in January.  The theme for the program is appropriately broad -- "Intersectionality, Aging and the Law."  

I like this definition of "intersectionality": 

The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.  Example:  "Through an awareness of intersectionality, we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us."

We need great presenters!  

From Naomi Cahn at George Washington Law:

We are interested in participants who will address this subject from numerous perspectives. Potential topics include gray divorce, incarceration, elder abuse (physical or financial), disparities in wealth, health, housing, and planning based on race or gender or gender identity, age and disability discrimination, and other topics.  The conception of the program is broad, and we are exploring publication options.

If you are interested in participating, please send a 400-600 word description of what you'd like to discuss.  Submissions should be sent to Professor Naomi Cahn, ncahn@law.gwu.edu, by June 2, 2020, and the author[s] of the selected paper(s) will be notified by July 1, 2020.  

AALS is planning on hosting the annual meeting from January 5-9 and I personally feel the overall theme for the conference is apt in these fraught times:  The Power of Words

 

April 30, 2020 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Grant Deadlines/Awards, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, International, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Programs/CLEs, Property Management, Science, Statistics, Webinars, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

End-of-Life Decisions and Technology, Especially Ventilators

At Dickinson Law, in the last third of the Spring 2020 Semester, my Elder Law students are doing a module on End-of-Life Decisions.  I had planned this module more than a year in advance; certainly the timing has proven to be uniquely relevant.  Originally, my plan was for an in-depth discussion about choices related to assisted death, sometimes known as the Death with Dignity or Physician-Assisted Death.  And we are considering comparative studies and positions on legislation intended to support this choice, starting with a review of Oregon's more than 20 years of experience in providing this option.  

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is triggering new focal points on end-of-life decisions.  Consider for example the statement by an emergency room chief in a San Francisco hospital, as quoted recently in the Los Angeles Times, "You have an 80-year-old and a 20-year-old and both need a vent and you only have one.  What do you do?"  Individuals may have thoughtfully made advance decisions about whether they want mechanical assistance in breathing during life-or-death circumstances.  They may have appointed an agent to speak for them or created written directions via living wills, DNR orders, or POLST documents.  But it is one thing to make you own decision; it is another to have the "decision" made because of lack of what is arguably baseline equipment.  

I've been particularly interested in the history behind ventilator shortages as reported by The New York Times.  

Thirteen years ago, a group of U.S. public health officials came up with a plan to address what they regarded as one of the medical system’s crucial vulnerabilities: a shortage of ventilators. The breathing-assistance machines tended to be bulky, expensive and limited in number. The plan was to build a large fleet of inexpensive portable devices to deploy in a flu pandemic or another crisis.

 

Money was budgeted. A federal contract was signed. Work got underway.

 

And then things suddenly veered off course. A multibillion-dollar maker of medical devices bought the small California company that had been hired to design the new machines. The project ultimately produced zero ventilators.

The rest of the story reads like a detective tale.  The small California-based company was proposing a new generation of easy-to-use, more cost effective, mobile ventilators.  By 2012, the partners were on schedule to file for market approval in September 2013, paving the path for production.  However, in May 2012, a much large medical device manufacturer bought the California-based company for just over $100 million.  Good news? That larger company might have especially strong resources for speedy production, right?

The new owner, Covidien, already made ventilators -- at a higher cost -- and in 2014, reportedly told federal officials they wanted to get out of the new ventilator contract.  The federal government agreed to cancel the contract. Covidien was sold to an even larger international company in 2015.

Why?  For more, read "The U.S. Tried to Build a New Fleet of Ventilators.  The Mission Failed," by Nicholas Kulish, Sarah Kliff and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, published in the NY Times on March 29 2020 and updated on March 31, 2020.  Or catch a NY Times podcast that looks further into shortages of hospital rooms, COVID-19 testing supplies and ventilator availability.  All interesting -- especially if you are talking about "end-of- life decisions."  

April 8, 2020 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

US Has More Elders Living Alone

I blogged a couple of times about social isolation's impact on elders as we move through this pandemic. Imagine social isolation when you live alone and how that compounds your loneliness. This report from Pew Research, released before the pandemic swept the U.S., reports that elders in the U.S.  live alone in greater numbers than other countries.  Older people are more likely to live alone in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world shows that:

Living with an extended circle of relatives is the most common type of household arrangement for older people around the world, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. But in the United States, older people are far less likely to live this way – and far more likely to live alone or with only a spouse or partner.

Let me share some stats from the article:

  • "In the U.S., 27% of adults ages 60 and older live alone, compared with 16% of adults in the 130 countries and territories studied."
  • "U.S. adults ages 60 and older also are more likely than their counterparts around the world to live as a couple without young children at home. Almost half of Americans in this age group (46%) share a home with only one spouse or partner, compared with three-in-ten globally (31%)."
  • "Globally, living in extended-family households – those that include relatives such as grandchildren, nephews and adult children’s spouses – is the most common arrangement for people 60 and older. "

March 29, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Housing, International, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Don't Miss This Webinar: Public Charge and Elder Immigrants

Do you know about the Public Charge and Elder Immigrants issue? Justice is Aging has a webinar scheduled on this for March 9, 2020 at 2-2:30 eastern time..  Here's the info from the announcement.

Public Charge and Immigrant Seniors

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court removed the nationwide temporary injunction that had prevented the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge immigration rule from taking effect. This means that the public charge rule that DHS finalized last August can go into effect nationwide, except in Illinois, where it is blocked by a statewide injunction. DHS announced that it will begin implementing the final rule on February 24th.

The Supreme Court’s decision endangers the health and well-being of older immigrants and their families and cruelly impedes the path to citizenship and family unification. However, it is not a final decision and we must continue to fight to stop this harmful policy from becoming permanent. The multiple cases challenging the underlying legality of the final public charge rule will continue in the courts. DHS has appealed all the district court decisions that issued preliminary injunctions to the Second, Fourth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. DHS has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

Justice in Aging and our partners have filed amicus briefs in the Second and Ninth Circuits to ask the court to affirm the district courts’ nationwide injunctions and to highlight the ways in which this rule unfairly targets older immigrants, their families, and caregivers. This webinar, Updates on Public Charge & Older Immigrants, will begin with an overview of the public charge test and how it applies to older adults, discuss the current state of litigation, and provide information on what advocates need to know about the rule’s implementation.

Who should participate:
Aging and legal advocates, advocates serving immigrant communities, community-based providers, and others wanting to learn more about how changes to the public charge test and implementation of the new regulations impact older immigrants.

To register for the webinar, click here. More info about this issue is available from Justice in Aging here.

 

February 13, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, International, Medicaid, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

International Federation on Aeging Webinar on 1th Session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing

The UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing has its 11th Session coming up.  Prior to that meeting, the International Federation on Aeging, along with  the Global Alliance For the Rights of Older People (GAROP) are offering an upcoming webinar on National Advocacy ahead of the 11th Session of the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing.is holding a webinar on National Advocacy Ahead of the 11th Session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing on January 22, 2020 at 7 a.m. est. This webinar will

  • Provide information for all NGOs engaging in the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) process at the national level.
  • Focus particularly on what national advocacy NGOs can do to influence their governments ahead of the 11thOEWG session in April.
  • Include updates and insights from a UN perspective and concrete examples of national advocacy from GAROP members. 

Click here to register for this program.

Summaries of the prior meetings of the U.N. Working Group can be accessed here.

January 15, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Other, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Report from 2020 AALS Annual Meeting Section on Aging and the Law

For the last few years, I've found myself with conflicts during semester breaks that interfered with attending the AALS Annual Meeting.  So I was especially happy this year to attend and catch up with long-time and new friends, especially those who work in fields relevant to elder law.  

The annual meeting kicked off for me with a Joint Session hosted by the Sections on Aging and the the Law, Civil Rights, Family & Juvenile Law, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, and Immigration Law.  The collaborative event offered lots of interesting "Emerging Issues in Elder Law," with speakers including:

Mark Bauer, Stetson Law, who spoke about recent enforcement efforts to combat elder exploitation, and pointed to a lingering weakness associated with banks that make SARS reports that never go beyond the regulatory body, and therefore never reach first responders, such as local police.  He talked about support for a state-wide effort in Florida to improve police reports to make it easier to identify abusers who target older persons.  He also called for better record-keeping for sales of gift cards, as these have become the number 1 method that telephone scammers get older adults to send them money.  

Wendy Parmet, Northeastern University School of Law, who focused on the impact of immigration laws and policies on the health of older adults, including attempts by the current administration to change the definition of "public charge" to include anyone who could receive any public benefits whatsoever,  thereby expanding the the pool of inadmissible immigrants and further restricting eligibility for legal permanent residency.  She traced the impacts of such policies on older adults once eligible for family reunification, on older citizens overall, and on a nation that once took pride in providing help to immigrants who were "tired and poor."

Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, Duquesne Law, who talked about how some states are not applying sentencing reforms to elderly offenders, even though such inmates statistically are at the least risk of reoffending and, at 19% of the total prison population, are often generating care costs that are unsustainable.  I learned, sadly, that my own state of Pennsylvania is one of the states that is not yet making significant progress on sentencing reforms for older adults.

Rachel Lopez, Drexel University Law, who is director of Drexel's Stern Community Lawyering Clinic, carried forward the theme of needed prison reforms for older inmates, reporting the latest events that follow the Graterford Think Tank Prison Project in Pennsylvania, and making the sobering observation that the most effective argument may not be one that sounds in human rights or human dignity, but the demonstration that return to the community for aging and ill residents saves the state money.  

Naomi Cahn, George Washington Law, who is also the incoming chair for the AALS Section on Law and Aging, presented facts and figures on "gray divorce," especially with respect to financial impacts on women.  She urged a de-coupling of Social Security benefits from marriage (or perhaps marriage longevity requirements), arguing that Social Security credits should be available for time spent as caregivers.  

Browne Lewis, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, pointed to the emerging issue of "reproductive rights" for older individuals, identifying jurisdictions that restrict women's access to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) including placing age or time restrictions on use of banked or stored eggs.

For faculty members who would like to be part of next year's Law and Aging program at the 2021 AALS Annual meeting in San Francisco, contact Naomi Cahn with your topics and interest.  

January 8, 2020 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Retirement, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Catching Up on Some News

Two articles, updating us on two topics important to all of us.

First, statistics. We know women statistically live longer than men,and a recent data report from Pew updates us that this still is true and in many instances women are younger than their husbands.  That it means that late in life, many women will be alone. Globally, women are younger than their male partners, more likely to age alone tells us that "[t]he pattern of spousal age gaps – and the fact that women tend to live at least a few years longer than men – helps explain another universal theme: Across the world, women are about twice as likely as men to age alone. One-in-five women ages 60 and older live in a solo household (20%), compared with one-in-ten men (11%)."  The report looks at religion and geography to measure the extent of this trend. "Rates of living alone over the age of 60 are tied to many factors, including cultural norms, economic development, levels of education and life expectancy. In countries where governments offer fewer retirement benefits or other support systems for older adults, families may face a greater responsibility to provide care."

The next article is from Sunday's New York Times, on the continuing shortage of geriatricians.Older People Need Geriatricians. Where Will They Come From?  notes the long-term shortage of geriatricians and explains their importance, using one real-life example to "spotlight the rising need for geriatricians. These doctors not only monitor and coordinate treatment for the many ailments, disabilities and medications their patients contend with, but also help them determine what’s most important for their well-being and quality of life." There's very little progress on closing this gap, according to the article. "An analysis published in 2018 showed that over 16 years, through academic year 2017-18, the number of graduate fellowship programs that train geriatricians, underwritten by Medicare, increased to 210 from 182. That represents virtually no growth when adjusted for the rising United States population."

The article explains why there aren't more doctors going into the field, including the economics realities.  One measure to address the shortage is cross-training.

Medical associations representing cardiologists and oncologists have begun focusing on older patients...

Health systems are adopting age-friendly approaches, like specialized emergency rooms. The American College of Surgeons’ new verification program sets standards hospitals should meet to improve results for older patients.

Last month the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted to reauthorize a $41 million program that educates health professionals in geriatrics; it awaits a floor vote. A companion bill has already passed the House of Representatives.

Health professionals increasingly recognize that if they’re not in pediatrics, they will be seeing lots of seniors, whatever their specialty. A 2016 American Medical Association survey, for example, found that close to 40 percent of patients treated by internists and general surgeons were Medicare beneficiaries.

Pay attention to these issues. They will affect all of us either directly or through a family member.

 

January 7, 2020 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Medicare Abroad? Don't Retire Abroad Without Thinking This Through.

Kaiser Health News ran an article about the issues Medicare presents for beneficiaries who want to retiree to other countries. Dream Of Retiring Abroad? The Reality: Medicare Doesn’t Travel Well explains the issues:

As the number of American retirees living overseas grows, more of them are confronting choices ... about medical care. If they were living in the United States, Medicare would generally be their coverage option. But Medicare doesn’t pay for care outside the U.S., except in limited circumstances.

Expatriate retirees might find private insurance policies and national health plans in other countries. But these may not provide the high-quality, comprehensive care at an affordable price that retirees expect through Medicare. Faced with imperfect choices, some retirees cobble together different types of insurance, a mix that includes Medicare.

The article notes that the quality of the health care may be dependent on the country, and as the number of U.S. retirees move to other countries, they need to think hard about how they will pay for health care. The article discusses issues with private health insurance policies, the costs and rates, which may be different depending on the country.  Even with private health insurance, expats need to look at Medicare as the article explains:

Even when retirees buy a private policy, Medicare is another piece of the puzzle that they have to consider. Once people become eligible for Medicare coverage, usually at age 65, they face a 10% premium penalty for every 12 months they are not enrolled in Part B, which covers outpatient services. (People who are 65 but still covered by an employer plan generally do not face that penalty.)

After paying into the Medicare system for decades, it’s no wonder some expats are frustrated that they can’t generally use the program outside the United States.

That’s just the way the law is written, an official at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said.

...

And retirees should honestly consider whether they will spend the rest of their lives overseas.

August 21, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Register Now: Webinar on Access to Justice in Older Age

The Global Alliance for the Rights of Older Persons has announced an upcoming webinar on August 22, 2019 from 7-8 a.m. edt (yes that's correct 7-8 AM).   Here's info about the webinar:

Access to Justice is one of the new areas of older people’s human rights that will be discussed at the 11th session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing in New York from 6-9th April 2020. The UN will soon call for written submissions on this topic, which will play an important role in shaping the debates that will happen at the 11th session.  A strong civil society response to this consultation is vital. This webinar will explore some of the key issues and barriers around access to justice in older age. It will also offer tips and support on how you can prepare high quality substantive inputs to the upcoming UN consultation.  

  • Moderator: Susan Somers (INPEA and GAROP Steering Group member)
  • Panelist: Bill Mitchell (Townsville Community Legal Service, Australia)

To register for this important webinar, click here.

August 20, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Other, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Bereavement, Caregiving, and Immigration

I've written about this combination of topics before.  I can't quite believe I'm doing so again.  

My sister and I lost our last parent on Friday.  As with our father, who died in 2017, our mother's final months were complicated by dementia.  Thankfully her death was gentle -- she just sort of wound down at age 93 (and 9 months -- isn't it amusing how we start counting the months again, as people tend to do when someone is nearing 5 and a half years of age).  

Both of our parents had full and fulfilling lives, or as one of our friends commented, "your mother used the full runway."  The care team at an assisted living community that specializes in dementia care came to know both of our parents well, and our bereavement was matched by the tears of many of the individual caregivers, each of whom had their own memory or story to share.  As several of them noted, in her last days Mom seemed determined to "find" Dad.  And, of course, we like to think she did find him.

But one additional complication was that as our mother reached her last hours, one caregiver who has worked for our family for several years, and that caregiver's mother, who has worked her way from CNA to head of a care team, were both coping with their own worries and grief.  Both of them are U.S. citizens, but as is often true in the Southwest, a family member, a husband, is not documented.  Recently he was picked up by ICE.  No one knows quite where he is yet, but the family members know they are likely to face hard choices once he is deported.  The family members must decide how and where they will live.  My parents' care team -- and by extension the community of residents at the assisted living center -- could lose two more skilled and devoted caregivers.  The fabric of aging care grows ever more fragile. 

July 25, 2019 in Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

French Right to Die Case Comes to an End

Previously I had blogged about the legal battle over removing life support from Frenchman, Vincent Lambert. The New York Times reported recently on his death, Vincent Lambert, Frenchman at Center of Right-to-Die Case, Dies at 42.

His family and his spouse disagreed on his wishes. "His wife, Rachel Lambert, said that he had clearly stated that he would not wish to live in a vegetative state. His parents argued that ending his life support amounted to the murder of a disabled person. Siblings and other family members took different sides in the dispute."  As the article notes, "[e]uthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in France. But the law allows patients who are terminally ill or injured with no chances of recovery to decide to stop treatments if the measures “appear useless, disproportionate” or if they seem to have no other effect than 'artificially maintaining life.'"  An article about the final court decision is available here.

In a related matter, the Judge for the Florida Schiavo case has written a chapter for a book, as explained in this article:

Inside the Terri Schiavo case: Pinellas judge who decided her fate opens up.  You should read it.

July 17, 2019 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 1, 2019

European Heat Wave Endangers Elders

So last week I posted how elders had an impact on climate change. Now I write about the impact climate change has on elders.  In case you weren't aware, there's a heat wave in Europe. In fact, one of my dear friends is teaching in our summer abroad program in Spain and he unexpectedly texted me to tell me how hot it was.  So last week's story in the Washington Post on the heatwave in France seems timely.

A heat wave killed 15,000 in France in 2003. As temperatures soar again, officials are taking no chances. explains about the various steps that French authorities are taking to offset the effect of the heatwave hitting their country, These record-breaking temperatures "scientists say are becoming more common in Europe as a result of climate change." Officials in Paris have taken a number of steps to help residents cope with the heat.  "The heat particularly threatens children, pregnant women and the elderly, city authorities warn. The city has set up a special phone service for elderly and sick people, and authorities have asked hospitals and retirement homes to be on alert. Older residents left alone made up many of the victims of the 2003 heat crisis."  The heat is record-breaking, according to the BBC.

Unusually hot temperatures are not limited to just Europe. The Tampa Bay area of Florida (where the College of Law is located), whose residents are used to hot and humid conditions this time of year, issued a heat advisory on June 26, 2019."[I]t’s rare for temperatures in Florida to climb beyond the low 90s in the summer ...  But with a high pressure system in the Atlantic blocking most of those cooling storms... the high ... should reach at least 96 – in the shade. Heat index values, meaning the temperature it feels like outside, will be 104 in Tampa and as high as 110 in the southern Bay Area."

 

July 1, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Other, Science, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Rocking On Regardless of Age!

Here's an inspiration for you. Whether you are a big band aficionado, love swing, rock 'n roll, metal, classical, rap, or something else, your appreciation of music has no age limit.  This story made me happy! 2 elderly men sneak out of nursing home to attend heavy metal festival covers the story.

You're never too old to rock on. Two elderly men managed to slip away from their nursing home in Germany to attend the Wacken Open Air, the largest heavy metal festival in the world, over the weekend, authorities said. 

According to Itzehoe police, the pair was eventually found Friday at 3 a.m. local time at the festival after their retirement home in Dithmarscher reported them missing. Police told the Deutsche Welle the men were found "disorientated and dazed."

The metalheads were apparently reluctant to leave the four-day festival in Wacken. They had to be escorted home with a taxi and a patrol car as a "precaution," police said.

Of course, safety is an issue.  I don't mean to make light of what might have happened. But dudes, rock on!  (P.S. One of my colleagues who is a big music fan offered to represent them for free if they need lawyers).

 

May 30, 2019 in Current Affairs, International, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 27, 2019

End of Life Case in France

Dr. Jay Wolfson, who served as the guardian ad litem in the Schiavo case, recently sent me a link to a BBC story about Vincent Lambert. Vincent Lambert: Life support must resume after court reverses ruling explains that after the Paris Appeals Court ruling, doctors had to resume life support for Mr. Lambert, in a vegetative state since an accident in 2008. His spouse supports terminating life support, while his parents oppose it.  When reading the article, I couldn't help but notice the similarities to some occurrences in Schiavo.  

The dispute has spread beyond the family of Mr. Lambert.  "The UN's Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had called on France to intervene and delay the move to withdraw the life support while they investigated his case further. France's ministry of health said it was not bound by the committee."

A follow up article was published in the Sunday Times (subscription required).

May 27, 2019 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Health Care/Long Term Care, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Using "Games" to Assess Early Stages of Dementia?

Apparently researchers and gamers are collaborating -- on a "game" that could be used to "identify individuals who might have early and mild symptoms of dementia that medical test aren't able to detect."  The game, developed in Germany, and called Sea Hero Quest, reportedly uses virtual reality technology to have a "player" manipulate a virtual boat on a game board.  Players are "given a map and shown checkpoints, then the map is taken away and players must navigate to these checkpoints in the game world without the map."  

Some of the data reported strike me as, hmmm, surprising.  I suspect this game might have greater validity if the players have established, previous skills in using the gaming tools, as well as interest or patience with the technology. There might also be some serious ethical questions for how the "game" is employed as a diagnostic tool.  For more details, read "A Video Game Developed to Detect Alzheimer's Disease Seems to Be Working."  

April 30, 2019 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, International, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Phased Retirement In Other Countries

The GAO published a new report examining the experiences of other countries with phased retirement of workers. Older Workers: Other Countries' Experiences with Phased Retirement reports on "17 countries with aging populations and national pension systems similar to the Social Security program in the United States. These countries also have arrangements that allow workers to reduce their working hours as they transition into retirement, referred to as 'phased retirement.'"

The report is available here as a pdf.  Some of the highlights from the report:

GAO's four case study countries—Canada, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK)—were described as employing various strategies at the national level to encourage phased retirement, and specific programs differed with respect to design specifics and sources of supplemental income for participants. Canada and the U.K. were described as having national policies that make it easier for workers to reduce their hours and receive a portion of their pension benefits from employer-sponsored pension plans while continuing to accrue pension benefits in the same plan. Experts described two national programs available to employers and workers in Germany, with one program using tax preferences. Experts also said Sweden implemented a policy in 2010 that allows partial retirement and access to partial pension benefits to encourage workers to stay in the labor force longer.

Even with unique considerations in the United States, other countries' experiences with phased retirement could inform U.S. efforts. Some employer-specific conditions, such as employers offering employee-directed retirement plans and not being covered by collective bargaining are more common in the United States, but the case study countries included examples of designs for phased retirement programs in such settings. Certain programs allow access to employer-sponsored or national pension benefits while working part-time. For example, experts said the U.K. allows workers to draw a portion of their account based pension tax-free, and one U.K. employer GAO spoke to also allows concurrent contributions to those plans. In addition, experts said that certain program design elements help determine the success of some programs. Such elements could inform the United States experience. For instance, U.S. employers told us that while offering phased retirement to specific groups of workers may be challenging because of employment discrimination laws, a union representative in Germany noted that they reached an agreement where employers may set restrictions or caps on participation, such as 3 percent of the workforce, to manage the number of workers in the program. Employers in the U.S. could explore whether using a similar approach, taking into consideration any legal concerns or other practical challenges, could help them to control the number of workers participating in phased retirement programs.

 

April 4, 2019 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, International, Other, Retirement | Permalink

Monday, March 4, 2019

Bibliography on Physician-Aided Dying

The Law Library Journal has published a comprehensive bibliography on Physician-Aided Dying. Physician-Assisted Death: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, prepared by Alyssa Thurston, who is head of Reference Services at Pepperdine University School of Law Library in Malibu, Calif.,  provides a comprehensive update on this important topic.

Here is the abstract of the paper. "Physician-assisted death (PAD), which encompasses physician-assisted suicide and physician-administered euthanasia, has long been controversial. However, recent years have seen a trend toward legalizing some form of PAD in the United States and abroad. The author provides an annotated bibliography of sources concerning PAD and the many issues raised by its legalization."

The introduction offers some helpful information for the reader:

¶3 This bibliography compiles selected secondary and primary materials on
PAD. Secondary sources include books, book chapters, law review and law journal
articles, bibliographies, websites, and current awareness materials, and are mostly
limited to publication dates of 2007–2018.10 Many of these materials discuss multiple
issues within the broader topic of PAD, and I have categorized them by subject
based on what I perceive to be their primary themes.
¶4 Most of the included materials focus on the United States, but a number of
sources also discuss other countries, and one section is devoted to international
experiences with PAD. In addition, PAD is often debated alongside other end-oflife
topics, such as withdrawal or refusal of medical treatment,11 palliative care,12
hospice care,13 or the use of advance directives,14 and some of the scholarship listed
in this bibliography concurrently address one or more of these subjects in depth.

Thanks to my colleague, Professor Brooke Bowman, for alerting me to this helpful resource!

March 4, 2019 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Other, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)