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Working with elderly clients

Treating elderly clients with respect and using the Golden Rule is the least you can do to make them feel at ease, says Dawn Joughlin

13 September 2013

Providing advice and legal services to older clients requires certain skills and particular qualities. It is important to be patient, have 
a calm open manner, and excellent listening skills. Very often there may be an underlying story you need to pick from the threads of discussion. Older clients in particular value the level 
of respect you reflect back 
to them.

You should not be patronising, high-handed, aloof, or have a desire to rush clients. I am often saddened, when clients relate to me their bad experiences of other legal professionals.

Apart from assessing your client's capacity, you must use the Golden Rule. It is also important to assess their level of academic understanding, which has nothing to do with age. It is usually fairly easy to pick up on this. Also be aware, that many older clients left school at an early age, and may have limited literacy skills. Very often, once relaxed in your company, clients will volunteer this ...

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