Today’s shifting demographics challenge law and policy-makers to understand and adapt to an aging population. It is important that all of those involved in serving older adults or developing law and policy affecting them better understand the needs and circumstances of this group. This includes government at all levels, service providers both public and private, community and advocacy organizations, and the legal profession (including its organizations). To ensure equitable and effective law and policy, this deeper understanding should be paired with a holistic, comprehensive and principled approach to the area.
As has often been noted, efforts to improve understanding among law and policy-makers must be paired with a shift in attitudes towards aging and older people among the general populace, away from stereotypes and paternalism and towards recognizing the value, contributions and capacities of older persons.
Older persons themselves will benefit from better access to information and supports regarding laws, policies and practices that may affect them, as this will support their abilities to make informed choices and to be active participants in their communities and in the development of laws, policies and practices.
It was the intent of the LCO in developing this Report and the Framework which it supports, to assist in developing a better understanding of the effects of law, policy and practice on the growing cohort of older adults in the population, and in identifying positive approaches which will advance substantive equality for older adults. This will benefit not only older adults, but all of us. As the principle of membership in the broader community highlights, we are all connected. Failure to respect the dignity, autonomy, security, inclusion and diversity of older adults will affect the wellbeing of all of us.
The LCO will disseminate the Report and Framework broadly to the groups identified above. As part of this broader strategy, the LCO intends to develop plain language materials related to the Framework.
The LCO realizes that this is an evolving area. The Report and Framework should not be considered, and were not intended to be, a final word on the matter. Rather, the LCO intends that these will form the foundation of further research, discussion and analysis, and that the Framework can be adapted for use in a variety of contexts. The LCO itself intends to apply this Framework, as well as the results of the sister project on The Law as it Affects Persons with Disabilities to a law reform project focussed on Ontario’s laws related to capacity and guardianship, to commence in summer 2012.
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