By Jerold E. Rothkoff

Recently, my daughter, age 22, witnessed me writing thank you notes that I usually write on an average weekend. She innocently asked why I write the thank you notes. I have been handwriting thank you notes for over 15 years to clients, their caregiver loved ones, referral sources, and professional friends. I probably write between 8-12 thank you notes each week. I explained to my daughter the importance of showing gratitude. People value being thought of, and a handwritten thank you note shows their gesture was important to you.

I admit during the past several months it has been at times difficult to express gratitude. How can we be grateful when millions of Americans are out of work? Millions are sick and/or hospitalized. We cannot connect as we would like with our family and friends. Summer vacations have been canceled. We do not know when this uncertainty due to COVID -19 will end.

Yet, there are opportunities to show gratitude all around us. I am grateful that I have a wonderful spouse and children who I have had an opportunity to share more time with during the last several months (although we all need a break with each other at times). I am grateful for the wonderful and dedicated Rothkoff Law team which continues to advocate for seniors which Jacinda Graham describes in this newsletter. I am grateful for my partner, Bryan Adler, for continuing to grow as an elder law attorney and being my professional partner. I am grateful to all the healthcare providers, grocery store employees, deliverymen and women, and the many essential workers who have kept us going the past several months. I am grateful for our clients, their loved ones, and our professional partners for their faith and trust in our elder care law firm. I am grateful the COVID-19 pandemic has forced me to slow down, and better appreciate all which is around me. I am grateful for the opportunity given to me to do what I love to do – advocate for seniors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also taught us about ourselves and society, which will cause us to be better people. I hope the pandemic has made me a better spouse, a better father, a better elder law attorney, a better employer, a better friend.

As to society, the good about the pandemic is showing us what is wrong with our healthcare system, inclusive of long-term care. COVID-19 has exposed the cracks in our tenuous system of providing and funding long-term care, and there are no easy fixes. The pandemic has also fully exposed the racial inequalities of our health care system, with COVID-19 disproportionately affecting Black and Latino people.

We cannot allow this pandemic to pass without taking the opportunity to fix what needs to be repaired. As a result, my hope is we, as a society, learn the value of properly taking care of our most vulnerable population, and ensuring everyone has access to quality health care.

So what can we take away from these difficult months? Despite all that has gone on, there has been some positives from a world seemingly coming to a stop. It has forced us to take a step back, think, and understand what it means to live the best life possible. For that we should all be grateful.