November 2023 Directors Column
There have been rumors going around for months that I am going to retire. I started some of them, and the rumors are true. I will retire from the staff of the ABA on January 5th. I joined the team of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging 15 years ago. My entire legal career has been in law and aging. Working at the ABA has been the highlight of my professional life.
Erica Costello will be the next director of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging. Erica has been with us two-years, and has an extensive background in APS, adult abuse, and guardianship reform.
It is time for me to move on. As M.T. Connolly reminds us in her book, “The Measure of Our Age”, life expectancy is typically 6 to 8 years longer than good health expectancy and there are things I want to do while still in good health. I am older than most people think I am. As my good friend Omar Valverde and I agreed when he retired from ACL, it is better to leave while they are saying “so soon” than to wait until they are saying “finally.”
Just as the older adults of today are different than our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, our understanding of aging and the issues has evolved. We have made major strides in understanding decision making, and advance care planning. Retirement income security is evolving as the 401k generation ages into retirement. Over the past 25 years, Medicare has evolved with prescription drug coverage being added, and Medicare Advantage plans now covering more than half of Medicare enrollees. The evolving medical science on dementia has made researchers optimistic in ways I have not seen before. Not all of the changes have been for the better. There are hurdles to access payment for health care, and a bias for institutional care over home care. There is work to be done on reforming or replacing guardianship, stopping the scourge of abuse. That work will shape the evolution of the field over the coming decade.