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September 19, 2023 Directors Column

The Future of Aging

David Godfrey, JD

The PDF in which this article appears can be found at BIFOCAL Vol. 45, Issue 1. 

The Future of National Aging and Law Conference:

The Future of Aging will be the theme of the 2024 National Aging and Law Conference – as the conference returns in-person, in a new venue, the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Florida, just a few miles south of Miami International Airport.  We are collaborating with the ABA Senior Lawyers Division to host the National Aging and Law Conference this year.  A call for speaker proposals is described in this issue of BIFOCAL and available here.

Policy of the Future:

At the ABA Annual Meeting in Denver in early August, the ABA House of Delegates (HOD) approved policy encouraging the development of a bill of rights for persons with a guardian, and emphasis on the importance of due process protections for persons in guardianship cases. 

506A23  RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal law and policy-making bodies to adopt the provisions of the Guardianship Bill of Rights, promulgated by the National Guardianship Network in 2022; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal law and policy-making bodies to protect the right to Due Process in guardianship proceedings.

The Commission on Law and Aging developed this policy jointly with the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. The policy empowers ABA to take a position on these critically important issues in the fight to reform adult guardianship and will be cited at the state level as evidence that the ABA believes this is an important issue.  The Commission on Law and Aging also voted to support passage of 602 that was approved by the HOD, urging clarification of the rules or conditions for employment of the spouse of military personnel when stationed overseas.  Gaps in employment by the family members of military personnel who are stationed around the world have a lifelong impact on employment and retirement income security. The ABA House of Delegates webpage has details of policies considered at the Annual Meeting.

Commissioners of the Future:

The Commissioners and Special Advisors of the Commission on Law and Aging are appointed by the incoming ABA President.  This August we welcomed five new Commissioners and two special advisors.  Jim Carr, from Littleton, CO, Eric Drogin from Hingham, MA, Selena E. Molina from Wilmington, DE, Michael Haywood Reed from Philadelphia, PA, and Jill Sauber from Minneapolis, MN join the ten returning Commissioners. Deirdre Lok from Bronx, NY, and Catherine Anne Seal from Colorado Springs, CO join us as special advisors.  The President and selection committee had many more nominations than available seats this year.  The nominations process opens late in the year and closes around the time of the ABA Mid-Year meeting in February and is open to any ABA member. 

The Future of Giving:

The Commission on Law and Aging will be participating in ABA Giving Day on October 26th.  Giving day is a coordinated effort by the ABA Fund for Justice and Education to ask for support that entities like the Commission on Law and Aging need to continue the work that we are doing.  Only about 11% of the budget of the Commission on Law and Aging comes from the American Bar Association.  We raise the vast majority of our funding from outside sources, including individual donors who empower us to continue this work.  The focus of the Commission on Law and Aging for Giving Day 2023 will be the support needed to bring the National Aging and Law Conference back in person.  The National Aging and Law Conference is entirely self-supporting, and while registration fees are the largest source of funding, outside donors are essential to balancing the budget.  Planning, organizing, and hosting the conference is staff intensive. Please make a pledge to support the National Aging and Law Conference as part of our Giving Day ask, I will.  Details are in this issue of BIFOCAL or you can email me for more information at [email protected]

The Measure of the Future of Aging:

Reading M.T. Connolly’s book “The Measure of Our Age” has made me think a lot about the efforts over the past 50 years to improve the quality of life and quality of care of adults as we age. As we move into the future, we need to evaluate and structure programs, services, and interventions with input from the end users.  There is a mantra among advocates for persons with disabilities, “not about us, without us,” we need to incorporate the user experience in developing and assessing everything that is intended to improve the lives of or protect adults as we age. And the efforts need to be sufficiently funded, including funding for meaningful evaluation so we know if the work that is being done archives outcomes the person wishes.

The Near Future and Beyond:

The Commission staff have a busy fall conference and training season coming up, with programs on adult abuse, guardianship reform, and client capacity in September and October.  We are developing some ABA Member Benefit CLE programs for later in the calendar year, and National Aging and Law Conference for late spring.  We are hosting Dinesh Napal, a graduate student at American University who is examining cutting edge issues in technology and artificial intelligence and how emerging technologies will change the experience of aging in the future.  We are developing several new projects that expand both the depth and the scope of the work that we are doing.  The future is bright, 2024 will bring many exciting experiences.

David Godfrey, JD.

Director ABA Commission on Law and Aging

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