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Mental Health, Competency and Addiction Issues in Older Attorneys: Understanding the Signs and Symptoms and How to Provide Treatment and Support

Program Number: 2547 Presenter: Joan Bibelhausen, JD

Aging does not equal incompetence. People process information differently as they age based on life experiences and other factors and that can be a true asset. But sometimes there are problems. There’s a difference between “senior moments” and cognitive impairment. There’s a difference in the way we process alcohol and other drugs as we age, and there is the added dimension of the likelihood of interaction with other medications. Dementia, depression and grief have some similar characteristics and even when the signs are there, these can be misdiagnosed, minimizing or causing a delay in recognition and treatment. And older adults are at greater risk for suicide. Cognitive impairment, alcohol and other substance issues and depression can be debilitating to the older adult and can result in harm to clients, disciplinary issues and malpractice exposure if they are not recognized and addressed. Law firms and other legal employers may

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