Posts Tagged ‘elderly’

Advance Directives for Seniors project

Monday, March 5th, 2012

This story is notable for several reason including the obvious value of the project. One of significance is the fact that the article refers to “attorney – paralegal teams.”

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Advance Directives for Seniors project visits Jacksonville townhouse
by Kathy Para, The JBA Pro Bono Committee Chairwoman

A team of volunteers including seven attorneys, four paralegals, and five law students gathered Feb. 25 to assist local seniors in creating advance directive documents.

The project was a collaborative effort of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Florida Coastal School of Law, The Jacksonville Bar Association and the Northeast Florida Paralegal Association.

The pro bono attorneys included Robert Morgan, Krista Parry, Bruce Duggar, Robyn Moore, Debbie Lee-Clark, Hollyn Foster and Pat Vail.

Paralegals Margaret Costa, Regina Colbert, Donna Hoffman and Courtney Brown, as well as law students Gabriella Vero, Hayley James, Melissa Cohenson, Camille Higham and Amanda Gray serving as scribes, witnesses, notaries and interviewers.

The attorney-paralegal and attorney-law student teams created and executed the advance directive documents including Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate Designations, Living Wills, and Designations of Pre-need Guardian for 24 local senior citizens.

For more on how this project operates (just in case your association is looking for a project) click here for the full story in the Jacksonville Financial News and Daily Record.

More on advanced directives and other end-of-life planning in the next post.

I am pleased to announce

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

that Carolina Academic Press is pleased to announce (and not just because they thought I’d never get it done):

The latest in Bob Mongue’s “Empowered Paralegal” series is now available. This one focuses on elder law issues.

Here are the details:
The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client
$38.00 • 328 pp • paper • ISBN: 978-1-59460-795-0

You can read more about it and view the table of contents here:

http://www.cap-press.com/isbn/9781594607950

I’ll be adding some more info to the books page here soon. It is, of course, available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other outlets.

Estrin Report: The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client Book Review

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

The following is from the Estrin Report. Chere Estrin is also Editor-in-Chief of KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals and SUE, For Women in Litigation; and Chairperson of the Board, The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP).*

The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client Book Review

I don’t know what it was that I expected when I picked up a copy of Robert Mongue’s latest book, “The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client” but that wasn’t as important as the fact that I just couldn’t put it down.

This is a book for everyone. While it is written specifically for paralegals, just substitute any position and you have a book that teaches you how to deal, motivate and learn from the older generations. This publication is not only for paralegals, it can be read by lawyers, administrators, legal secretaries – practically anyone who works in any capacity in a law firm environment. Why? Because for the first time that I can remember, someone is teaching how to handle the characteristics, traits, mental capacity and appropriateness of actions to age of clients and colleagues.

Mongue’s book does not cover the ho and the hum of regular “how-to” paralegal books. In fact, what he covers should be taught in every school regardless of specialty, profession or even age. Here, Mongue deals with our feelings about aging and the myths, stereotypes, cultural prejudices and extrapolations to the general population based upon personal experience. He draws you in as he explains behavior and the aging process and teaches you how to react as a result. As it turns out, much of what we think about the elderly is wrong, wrong, wrong.

With the millions of Baby Boomers about to set siege in the swamplands of Florida; the sunbelt of the Southwest and the hot, hot, hot but dry desert weather in Palm Springs, many firms and paralegals recognize that acting as counsel and paralegals for the senior generation will be much different than how the younger set thinks, acts and reacts. For the first time, Mongue tells you why so that you are better equipped for a smoother meeting, deposition, will writing, client meeting or other important event in your client’s space.

Mongue goes into great detail describing the professionalism and protocol you need in order to get the best possible information, client relationship, witness testimony and cooperation from an aging society. It’s simply fascinating. One chapter is devoted to death, dying and the end of life planning while another explains simply how to understand the differences in cultures such as generalities and diversity; Moslems, Jews, Catholics, Christians, Native Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, African Americans and others in what they want as they wind up the last quarter of their lives.

The book gives great tips on how to best communicate with someone in their later years. It teaches you how to talk to a senior citizen; how to best safe-proof their homes for optimum safety as the body changes and much more.

For any paralegal working with elderly clients, this book is a must-read. Even if you are working with graying baby boomers who are your colleagues, this book will clarify much of the “how-to’s” and answer the why’s: Why is the boomer thinking that way; why is last to embrace certain things but so much further ahead in accepting other concepts? Why doesn’t she understand me? The publication is artful in describing chronological, sociological, biological and psychological aging in a style that immediately captivates the reader. The book is so good, that you can substitute any part of the paralegal’s role throughout the book with another position entirely and still learn a brand new skill.

The chapter on Estate Planning and the Perils of Intestacy is excellent. The book covers “how-to” of estate planning such as a) explaining basic concepts b) writing forms c) the estate d) clarifying confusing basic estate plans e) basic estate planning.

The rich voice and highly expressive tone of the book plus the sharing of some of Mongue’s personal stories makes this book a great learning tool for paralegals of any level and any specialty. I highly recommend it to experienced paralegals, students, attorneys, legal assistants and anyone, anywhere who simply wants to be able to get their message across to those who have crossed over into eligibility for the early blue plate special at Tony’s Trattoria down the street.

Ranking: ***** 5 stars out of 5 stars
Publisher: Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina
Pages: 328 pages

*In the interest of full disclosure, I am on the OLP Advisory Board

Why the Elder Client?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Well, my new book is off to the printer. Over the next couple of days I’m hopeful I’ll have some reviews to pass on. One question that arises is why I chose the elder client as the topic for this book. Here’s the story behind that decision:

The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client

Preface

My first “real job” was working as a janitor in a hospital in western Massachusetts. Being new to the staff I often found my self assigned the wing of the hospital that cared for elderly patients. This was a wing in which no one on the staff wanted to work. The patients were generally senile and generally dying. They were all, of course, “old” and no one was anxious to be around old, senile or dying people.
Many of these patients were tied to their beds. Many had little or no sense of where they were. Some would repeat phrases or individual words endlessly. Often the repeated word was, “Nurse.” Almost all had constant needs – the need to be cleaned, the need to roll over, the need to be acknowledged.

As I moved from room to room mopping and dusting, morning after morning, two things came to mind. First, these people, being elderly and approaching the ends of their lives even if they were not –at that moment – dying, had a good number of commonalities. Second, however, each of them was different. Each had their own particular instance of whatever disease or ailment brought them to the hospital even if many of the other patients had the same disease or ailment. More importantly, each had his or her own personality and, if not suffering from constant dementia, their own approach or perspective on their current state, their future, and their approaching death.

One of the advantages of being a janitor is that, unless there is a specific need, you are largely invisible. Being unnoticed, you can observe not only the patients but their families and the medical staff. Here to, I found commonalities. But among families, I saw remarkable differences not only in personalities and temperaments, but in their approach to the current status, the future and the approach to the end of life of their loved ones. The broadest, most superficial commonalities arose from the mere fact that those loved ones were elderly and in the hospital. Other commonalities appeared to arise from cultural, religious, educational, and economic factors.

Our area did not have a lot of diversity. However, there was enough to see that common elements of the perspective of second generation Italian-Americans from the northern-New England “Yankees” of my mother’s family and the French/German influence on my father’s family. The Protestant perspective was not much different from the Catholic, although the differences were perceptible. There were common factors in the approaches of the poor, distinguishable from those of the middle class, which were equally distinguishable from the rich (although the truly rich seldom found it necessary to die in the public hospital.) Perspectives changed with the level of education. Combining these factors with differences in attitudes that existed between generations within each family resulted is a multitude of individual emotional and intellectual reactions to illness, aging, disability, dementia and death.

Yet, it appeared to me that medical service providers had only one approach that they applied to all of the patients and, if they paid any heed to the families at all, to those who loved and, except for the duration of their hospitalization, provided care for them. Caught up in the science of medicine – the machines, the charts, the new techniques, perhaps combined with a need to depersonalize the patients in order to remain objective, the approach was often one of intellectual superiority, of knowing better than the patient or their families what the patient wanted or needed, of knowing better than the patient or their families when, how, and where it was better for the patient to grow old or die. Patients appeared to be just patients, not necessarily people in the sense of individual persons.

Thus the only perspective that mattered was that of the medical providers. It is not that they did not care, often deeply, for their patients. It appeared simply that they believed there was only one way to care for the patients, regardless of the individual perspective and personality of the patient – their way. I was in high-school at the time, convinced that I was going to become a doctor myself, so my focus was on the medical profession. It was not until a decade later as I began the practice of law that I realized the legal profession was often afflicted with the same narrowness.

In my last year of high school Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published On Death and Dying beginning the long process of changing the medical profession’s perception of the “right” way to care for the dying patients. Since then great progress has been made not only in the medical profession’s approach to death and dying, but in the approach to aging and the elderly with new research assisting in the understanding of the elderly in terms of medicine, sociology, law and many other aspects of society. It is my hope in this book to digest and present much of that knowledge for the paralegal – the person in the law office most involved in interacting with the client – so that the paralegal will be empowered to best meet the needs of the elderly client and to manage that client as part of the legal team.

Professional, Empowered Paralegals and Elderly Clients

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

I’ve returned to Maine for the holidays. During some of the quiet times I am working on my new book, The Empowered Paralegal Approach to Elder Law.” Those of you who have read “The Empowered Paralegal” know that the basic approach to dealing with clients is understanding not only their legal needs, wants and goals, but understanding the client him or herself in a way that allows the paralegal to remove barriers to communication and properly manage the client as a member of the legal team. This takes on a special meaning with elderly clients and often means applying the same principles to the client’s family. Clearly many elderly clients need special accommodations due to diminution in mobility, hearing and sight. However, it is also important for the paralegal to be aware of the basics of psychology of aging and the varying perceptions that clients and their families have of aging, dying and death, as well as the effects that those perspectives have on the client and their families as they work through legal issues.

I am very interested in hearing from practicing paralegals about their experiences with elderly clients and their families. Please contact me by comment here or email me at theempoweredparalegal@live.com with your comments, problems, concerns, accommodations or stories regarding elderly clients.