Preparing An Older Adult for a Hearing

Elder fraud

Here is a checklist on items to consider in preparing an older adult for a hearing:


Checklist for Preparing an Elderly Client for a Hearing

 General Issues

  • If possible, take the client to the courthouse or location of a deposition to familiarize him/her with the setting and location. Inquire if the client will need assistance in getting to the hearing or deposition. If necessary, arrange for assistance and transportation.
  • If the client lives in a residential care home or assisted living facility, make arrangements with the facility to have the client ready for the hearing or deposition in a timely manner and for its assistance with transportation.
  • Tell the client who will be present at the hearing or deposition and the roles each person will play in the proceeding.
  • Consider whether the presence of certain parties would have an undue impact on the client’s perception of his/her safety and well-being. Consider whether or not such persons can be excluded from the proceeding.
  • Give the client a written reminder of the date, time, and location of the hearing or deposition.

Physical Issues

  • Be informed of any physical limitation of the client that might affect his/her ability to attend or testify at a hearing or deposition.
    • Does the client need to take medications at certain times?
    • Does the client have trouble sitting for extended periods?
    • Does the client require physical assistance, such as a wheel chair, in order to attend the hearing or deposition?
  • Does the client require rest, which might affect the length of time he/she may attend a hearing or deposition? Are certain times of day better than others for the client to attend a hearing or deposition?
  • Does the client need to eat or drink at specific times to maintain physical well-being? Do you need to have food or beverages available in case the hearing is extended?
  • Does the client have difficulty hearing, or difficulty hearing in certain types of noise settings, which might impact their ability to hear questions, testimony, or conversation at the hearing or deposition?
  • Determine whether the courthouse or deposition location has hearing assistance devices if needed.
  • Determine if the courthouse or deposition location is accessible to the disabled.
  • Does the client have continence issues? Will he/she require assistance of a caregiver in such event? Know the location of the nearest bathrooms and whether or not they are accessible to the disabled.

Testimony Preparation

  • Go over the nature of the proceeding with the client, including its purpose and limitations.
  • If there will be exhibits (neuro-psychological reports, complaint forms, executed wills, POAs, etc.), go over these exhibits with the client to refresh his/her memory concerning the content of the exhibits.
  • Go over anticipated questions from opposing parties in the proceeding to reduce the chance of surprise and stress on the client. Ask the anticipated questions of the client in different ways to reduce the chance of any surprise and confusion.
  • Go over the questions you intend to ask to help the client feel more comfortable during your questioning.
  • Remind the client not to “tell stories,” ramble, or give long answers.
  • Tell the client to ask the lawyer to repeat the question, or explain the question if they do not understand it.
  • Remind the client to answer the question that is asked, without providing additional information that was not requested

From “Ethics in the Practice of Elder Law,” by Roberta Flowers & Rebecca Morgan