UA School of Social Work to Host Symposium on Aging Adults

Dr. Allan V. Kaufman
Dr. Allan V. Kaufman

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama School of Social Work will host the Allan V. Kaufman Phi Alpha Symposium, a community panel to discuss aspects of aging adults, Jan. 20 at Little Hall.

The symposium, which will cover caregiving for older adults, legal and protective services and wholesome living, is named after Dr. Allan V. Kaufman, a professor emeritus at the UA School of Social Work whose research interests included caregiving of older adults. Kaufman, who’ll be honored at the symposium, retired in 2009 as a full professor and resides in Northport.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. in room 223 of Little Hall.

“Phi Alpha strives to inspire all people to be involved and knowledgeable about social work and what is happening in the world,” said Emily Dumas, a Master of Social Work student and Phi Alpha president. “Inspiring passion for elder care is a wonderful cause that many of our students are drawn to. With an aging population, it is more important now than ever to encourage students toward elder care, which can, ultimately, benefit students.”

Matthew Talley, who holds a bachelor’s degree and MSW degree from UA, is an attorney at Nolan Stewart, PC in Birmingham and will be one of the three panelists at the symposium. Talley, who formerly worked as a coordinator of mental health services in a hospital, will discuss the legal aspects of care for the elderly, such as having a power of attorney document.

“At our firm, we have two powers of attorney documents – one for medical care and one for finances,” Talley said. “A lot of people don’t do these before there’s a problem. We try to preach to the community to do estate planning before a problem or crisis arises. People are shocked at the money and time involved if proper planning is not done.”

Other panelists include Ginger Roberts McGaughy, a social worker at the Department of Human Resources, who’ll discuss issues associated with adult protective services, and Elizabeth Espy, of Crimson Village, who’ll focus on assisted living and long-term care.

Phi Alpha will distribute fact sheets at the symposium that include information about caring for aging adults. Continuing Education Units will be provided.

Kaufman is one of the original faculty advisers for Phi Alpha and helped the group organize its first symposium in the 1980s. He said the symposium, which had a different topic each year, addressed hot-button issues relative to what was trending at the time.

“This was early in the AIDS epidemic, and we had one of the first symposia on AIDS that I can remember, back in the late 80s,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman said one of the greater issues of facing aging adults and their families is the distance between them. While he lived in New York and even in Tuscaloosa, meeting the needs of his parents, who lived in Florida, was challenging, he said.

“Here in Tuscaloosa, my experience has been that many families stay here when the kids get older, educated and get jobs,” Kaufman said. “But people who have come here from other places – like faculty – when they retire, they tend to be separated. And if caregiving needs arise, that’s difficult to handle long-distance. That’s what I was focused on the last couple of years. As the population continues to age, that’s a growing concern.”

Kaufman said he’s particularly honored that Phi Alpha has named the symposium in his honor due to his past involvement with the group and the former students involved.

“I don’t know that I deserve to have it named after me, but I’m honored to accept that,” Kaufman said. “I’ve always stressed academics over practice. It’s a practice profession, but you have to have a good academic footing to be a good practitioner. I’ve always enjoyed working with students who were serious about it. The Phi Alpha people were.”


David Miller, UA media relations, 205/348-0825,


Dr. Carol Drolen, associate professor, School of Social Work, 205/348-3935,