Posted: December 17th, 2015
The medical and legal issues of older people are often connected. The primary overlaps occur with questions about mental capacity and health care coverage. We were fortunate to have a guest lecture from Edward Shaw, M.D. The law students learned about memory disorders and their treatment, progression and diagnosis. Many of these medical issues arise in guardianship cases that the students handle. Dr. Shaw founded and directs the Memory Assessment Clinic, a cooperative effort between the WFU Department of Counseling and the WFU School of Medicine section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine.
Several students had the opportunity to observe older patients at the medical center. As part of that process, they offered patients some basic information about legal steps that one can take to plan for possible incapacity. And they learned about common issues that arise for elders and their families as a result of cognitive impairments. Drs. Hal Atkinson and Julie Williams, both experienced geriatricians, demonstrated the gold standard for interacting with older patients.
As clinic student Jeanna Revell observed, “The doctors had a great mixture of a calming presence and a to-the-point structure of conversation. I could tell within a matter of minutes that the patient was relaxing and starting to trust the physicians, though she would get flustered at points. When this happened, the doctors were affirming and smoothly transitioned to the next phase of the assessment. My visit to the medical clinic was wonderful and very rewarding.”
Katie Yale Barnes wrote about her visit, “I learned a lot about bedside manner. I was blown away by how empathetic and understanding Dr. Williams was, especially with one patient’s spouse. The patient was significantly impaired and the spouse had been having an extremely difficult time. However, Dr. Williams remained very professional and gathered the necessary information. I hope to be just as empathetic, yet professional, with my own clients.”