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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

America is growing older. Both as a percentage of the population and in absolute numbers, every year more Americans are age sixty-five or older. Although generalizations about the elderly can be woefully inaccurate, and although chronological age is a very imprecise means of categorizing individuals with common characteristics, society nevertheless finds it useful to group the elderly together. Still, references to the elderly should not obscure the great differences among the individuals within the larger group. Yet the elderly, to varying degrees, share a decline in physical capacities and, to a lesser extent, a decline in mental capacity. When combined with a loss of economic well-being, the decline in physical vigor, and for some, the loss of mental capacity, the needs of the elderly translate into significant demands upon the larger society. These needs also translate into legal rights. In this Essay, Professor Frolik and Ms. Barnes discuss how American society and the legal profession might respond to the rights and needs of the increasing number of elderly.

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