October 31, 2017

Alzheimer's Program Leads More Professionals to Get Involved

The Hon. Louraine Arkfeld

In April of 2016, I was chair of the Senior Lawyer’s Division and we held our Spring Meeting in Tempe, Arizona. One reason for that was that Tempe has been designated as one of the pilot Dementia Friendly Communities. Our programming for the Spring Meeting was on Alzheimer’s and dementia issues from the current state of the medical research and legal issues for families facing Alzheimer’s to coping mechanisms for families and what it means to be a Dementia Friendly community. In line with our commitment to help both lawyers and American families, we invited the community along with lawyers to attend this day-long program. This program has led to additional training and involvement in this critical issue.

For example, as a result of the program, I was invited to join the Tempe Action Team for the Dementia Friendly Community. One of our projects where I volunteer is the Memory Café, a weekly gathering for caregivers and their partners with memory loss. We provide a social activity for those with memory loss to engage in while the caregivers have an opportunity to participate in a support group. I have also been trained as a Dementia Champion to help provide training in our community – whether banks, offices, grocery stores, libraries, transportation vehicles – anywhere where persons with memory loss could be seeking services so that those providing those services can be understanding and helpful in their interactions.

Also in attendance at the SLD Spring Meeting Alzheimer’s program were staff from the State Bar of Arizona. They were inspired by what they learned to want to provide training for lawyers and judges on the important issue of Alzheimer’s and dementia in the legal profession. I was invited to join their planning committee. We first presented a nationwide webinar “Hidden in Plain Sight: Dementia and its Impact on Lawyers and Judges” in February 2017. (I would note with pride that this national session won the Community and Educational Outreach Award from the National Association of Bar Executives presented in August 2017.) In April 2017, we presented another training session focused on Arizona - both as an in-person and webinar – “Spotlight on Dementia: Arizona Lawyers, Judges and the Practice of Law.” In June, a session was presented at the Arizona Annual Judicial Conference, a mandatory conference for all state judges in Arizona. In September we made a similar presentation to the Scottsdale Bar Association. We continue to be available to present on these important issues.

It is exciting to see how one program has resulted in so much more training and outreach on this critical issue.

Louraine Arkfeld,

Louraine Arkfeld, a retired presiding judge of the Tempe Municipal Court, was chair of the Senior Lawyers Division from 2015-2016.