Social Work and the Courts: A Casebook

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Sunderland, 1991). In many other cases, the petitioning process itself is so demoralizing that "the challenge to one's competency, of itself, reduces the ability to challenge it" (Bulcroft, Kielkopf, & Tripp, 1991, p. 162).

Guardianship of older persons is a subject that is and will continue to be challenging for those who work with frail older adults. Older people, particularly the very old, are currently the fastest growing demographic group in the United States. Current projections indicate that due to increased longevity, life expectancy is expected to increase from 74.9 years to 77.6 years by the year 2005, and by the year 2080, the projected life expectancy will increase to 81.2 years. For this reason, it is important that the process associated with guardianship be fair and appropriate to the needs of this vulnerable population. Although advocacy for legal reform is an essential component in guardianship research, social workers should approach questions regarding guardianship with great care and at the same time develop stronger relationships within their agencies.

Bulcroft, K., Kielkopf, M., & Tripp, K. (1991). Elderly wards and their legal guardians: Analysis of county probate records in Ohio and Washington. The Gerontologist,31(2), 156-164.
Butler, R., Lewis, M., & Sunderland, T. (1991). Aging and mental health. New York, Merrill.
Iris, M. (1988). Guardianship and the elderly: A multi-perspective view of the decisionmaking process. The Gerontologist,28, suppl., 39-45.
Keith, P., & Wacker, R. (1993). Implementation of recommended guardianship practices and outcomes of hearings for older persons. The Gerontologist,33(1), 81-87.
Toward, J., & Ostwald, S. (2002). Exploring mental health service needs for the elderly: Results of a modified Delphi study. Community Mental Health Journal,38(2), 141-149.


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