Document Type


Publication Date

January 2015

First Page



INTRODUCTION: Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted as saying: "Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide." The quest for independence and the right to call your own shots can be lost at the drop of the gavel. In 2011, the baby boomer generation totaled over 41 million men and women, of which three million celebrated his or her 65th birthday that year. With this increase in the elder population, there has been an increased trend in finding solutions to provide for this population to the point where "[s]ocial services are being pushed to the breaking point and many are turning to the legal system." With society turning to the legal system, "[t]he past two decades have seen a proliferation of legislation aimed at protecting older adults from abuse and neglect.", In many of these new pieces of legislation, it is not uncommon for there to be some ambiguity as to what a phrase means. For example, the phrase "such as" was a point of contention for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in its decision in In re Townsend Conservatorship.6 In answering the purported ambiguity of the phrase, the Court decided that a conservator can be appointed for conditions not listed within the existing statute. This, however, is concerning because "[m]any of the resulting statues have the practical effect of abrogating the civil liberties of older adults based primarily, or exclusively, on their chronological age." To this end, individuals may have been exposed to the loss of his or her liberty through, among other things, habits and old age. The statute, as it is currently written, does not need to be expanded to allow "such as" conditions to dictate the choices an individual would otherwise be able to make.