Janie DeLeon Male, our Director of Care Coordination, regularly prepares notes to the file subsequent to her meetings with clients.  I spend about an hour on the weekend reviewing her very detailed notes in order to be aware of the issues involving each of our clients. Janie, along with our other two care coordinators, regularly meets with our clients in their home, assisted living community, or in a nursing home.  She attempts to obtain a complete picture of our client beyond what the assets and income are.

Last weekend, I was reviewing Janie’s notes regarding a relatively new client, Catherine, living in a local nursing home.  We were referred to Catherine by the nursing home social worker.  In most cases, our client’s children or other legal representative meet with me for an initial meeting in our office.  However, in this case, Catherine had no children and there was no local relative to assist her.  Therefore, Catherine requested our office serve as her agent under her power of attorney to assist in bill paying, accessing funds to pay for her ongoing nursing home care, downsizing and selling her home, reviewing her health insurance options, advocating for quality long term care, and eventually assist in applying for Medicaid.  Janie and our office staff also has gone shopping for her to ensure she has all the necessary personal items she needs.

Janie’s note regarding her recent visit with the client left an impression on me.  Janie learned that Catherine and her late husband were professional ballroom dancers.  Catherine and her husband won awards dancing the rumba, tango, and the fox trot.  Since we were assisting in getting Catherine’s home ready for sale, Janie inquired if Catherine has any pictures of her and husband ballroom dancing.

This is the essence what our elder care law firm does each and every day.  Our goal is not necessarily to obtain eligibility for Medicaid, although that typically is part of our services.  Our goal is to attempt to understand our client’s financial and psychosocial needs and goals to help them effectuate their wishes.  Our clients have a vast array of life experience that we can learn from.  Our clients should not be defined as the person sitting in the wheelchair or the nursing home bed.  Our clients should be defined by their entire life experience.

In this case, Catherine’s goal is to sell her home and remain in the nursing home.  We will be assisting Catherine in meeting her goals.  We intend to find a picture of Catherine and her late husband ballroom dancing to place in Catherine’s nursing home room.

About Jerry

Jerold E. Rothkoff, a practicing New Jersey and Pennsylvania attorney, is the Principal of the Rothkoff Law Group, an elder care law firm. Jerry dedicates his practice to serving clients in the areas of life care planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid & VA benefits, and advocacy for the elderly and disabled. He is past President of the NJ Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, former chair of the elder law section of the NJ State Bar Association, and past President of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Jerry continues to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly and disabled. He writes for and gives presentations regularly to attorneys and other professionals about legal issues related to seniors and those with disabilities. Jerry’s community activities include the Twilight Wish Foundation, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as numerous other advocacy groups. When not in the office, Jerry spends time with his wife, Erica, and their five children, eighteen-year old identical twin girls, Liza and Julia, fifteen-year old fraternal twin boys, Evan and Gregory, and six-year old Aitan.

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