Assessment of Capacity in Older Adults - Module 1: Foundations of Capacity and ABA-APA Model and Legal Concepts and Guardianship

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CE Credit: 1.5

Length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Exam Items: 4

Closed captioning provided.

The concept of decision making capacity has evolved in the legal and clinical contexts.  Within the clinical context, we now focus on a person’s ability to do a specific task or make a specific decision rather than global competency or diagnoses.  Importantly we consider what supports are needed to maximize the person’s abilities, and weigh our decisions about capacity against the risks in the situation as well as individual values.  Guardianship law is a primary driver in our evolving concepts of capacity with a recent particular focus on supportive decision making, while recognizing the need at times for protective arrangements.  Original recording date: August 2017.

Presenters: Jennifer Moye, PhD, ABPP and Erica F. Wood, JD 

Jennifer Moye, PHD, ABPP is the Associate Director for the VA New England Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, and a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Her academic work aims to improve the lives of older adults by understanding their experience of and emotional responses to illness. Building on peer reviewed scholarship, she has devoted her energies to improving practice by translating research to clinical resources in the form of templates, guidelines, and practice handbooks particularly in the area of capacity assessment. Her work extends to include legal advocacy, testimony, service and education to courts, judges, guardians, and regulatory agencies. She is board certified in geropsychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Erica F. Wood, JD is assistant director of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging. She has been associated with the Commission since 1980, where she has worked primarily on issues concerning adult guardianship, health care and financial decision-making, legal services delivery, dispute resolution, health and long-term care, and access to court. She has participated in national studies on public guardianship and guardianship monitoring; and played a role in convening national consensus conferences on guardianship. Prior to 1980, she served as staff attorney at Legal Research and Services for the Elderly, National Council of Senior Citizens. Ms. Wood received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from the George Washington University. In 2013, she received the Isabella Horton Grant Guardianship Award from the National College of Probate Judges. In 2016, she was appointed by the Governor to the Virginia Commonwealth Council on Aging.

Learning Objective 1
Define capacity as it is used in civil capacity assessment of older adults and delineate the key components of a comprehensive capacity assessment per the ABA-APA model.

Learning Objective 2
Describe the general concepts about capacity in law, and specifically about capacity assessment in guardianship law and practice.

Learning Objective 3
List four legal standards for consent capacity and their application in a case.


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Supplementary Materials

  • Assessment of Capacity In Older Adults PowerPoint Slides
  • Adult Guardianship: Capacity Assessment and Elements of Reform PowerPoint Slides
  • Assessment of Capacity in Older Adults References
  • Capacity to Execute an Advance Directive
  • Assessment of the Capacity to Consent to Treatment ACCT Administration and Technical Manual
  • Assessment of Capacity to Consent to Treatment ACCT Interview