As Baby Boomers move into their retirement years, the nation’s interest on aging with dignity has grown. The ABA collaborates with health and social services professionals, academics, and advocates to secure the legal rights, quality of life and autonomy of aging persons.
Leading large-scale reform in guardianship issues
Guardianship deprives an individual of virtually all legal rights to make decisions and choices. The decision-making ability of persons with disabilities, including older individuals with dementia, is often too quickly questioned and discounted. In many cases, courts appoint guardians for people who could continue to make their own decisions if they had the right supports and services.
The ABA Commission on Law and Aging is committed to making change in adult guardianship. This means working to protect rights, promoting strong court oversight and finding help for family guardians.
Achieving large-scale change in social issues requires the collective efforts of a broad network of stakeholders. To this end, the Commission is working with the National Center for State Courts to expand and strengthen a network of state-based groups that focus on guardianship reform.
With the support of a recent innovation grant from the Administration on Community Living, the Commission will establish state groups beyond the 17 that currently exist and evaluate their success.
Students’ app aids detection of elder abuse
A team of students at Georgetown Law Center’s Iron Tech Lawyer Program accepted the Commission’s proposal to develop an app for legal issues related to elder abuse. Content was adapted from the Commission’s pocket and desk guides, originally created for law enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges.
The app will be launched this summer and hosted for two years by Neota Logic, a commercial software company with a strong commitment to pro bono.
Issues covered in the app include legal concepts, documents and tools that may be misused to commit elder abuse as well as actions that justice system professionals should consider if they suspect elder abuse has occurred.
Paving the way for thorough health care planning
Good advance planning for health care decisions is a continuing conversation – about values, priorities, the meaning of one’s life and quality of life.
To get the conversation started, the ABA Commission on Law and Aging offers a toolkit containing a variety of self-help worksheets, suggestions and resources. The toolkit does not create a formal advance directive.
Instead, it helps with the much harder job of discovering, clarifying and communicating what is important to an individual in the face of serious illness.
The toolkit and a variety of other resources on health decisions are available for consumers and legal professionals.
Free resources for lawyers and consumers
The ABA Commission on Law and Aging continues to improve the quality of service for elders by distributing legal resources for attorneys and legal professionals. These resources contain guidelines, tips and other helpful material to ensure that elders get the proper representation they deserve.
The PRACTICAL Tool helps lawyers identify and implement decision-making options that are less restrictive than guardianship for persons with disabilities.
“PRACTICAL” is an acronym for nine steps for lawyers to identify these options. The lawyer can use the PRACTICAL checklist of steps during the client interview and immediately after to assist in case analysis. Learn more about the PRACTICAL Tool and Resource Guide by clicking the image.