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Healthcare Story (2)

Innovative ways to advocate

After working with attorney Jesslyn Holbrook through our MedLaw Partnership, Jennifer was kind enough to send in a heartfelt note.

Her mother was in a deteriorating condition, which required Jennifer to become more active in decision-making regarding her mother's health. Our team processed the Power of Attorney and Health Proxy paperwork. With that delegation, Jennifer has been able to correspond more effectively with all those helping to secure a safe environment for her mother. Additionally, Jesslyn showed Jennifer a new way to communicate with her mother (who was suffering from severe hearing loss,) with the use of a headset/microphone combination. It dramatically changed their experience together.

Jennifer writes:

"Kudos to Ms. Holbrook for her resourcefulness and understanding of the needs of the aging population."

*Client photo has been changed for privacy reasons.


allowing people to live with dignity

What a difference a year can make…

The photo on the left is our client Gary in 2015. Gary was a victim of elder abuse at the hands of his spouse, who physically and emotionally abused him, often hitting him with pans and calling him names. She also controlled the household finances, leaving Gary with many unmet needs.

Gary worked with an attorney and social worker in our Elder Abuse Prevention Unit. Through their efforts, Gary was able to leave his wife and move into a safe assisted living facility. He was able to obtain an order of protection to avoid future abuse and get benefits to make ends meet.

Gary’s story has a happy ending- he now lives in a safe environment, has clean clothes, enough food, and has gained weight. When asked about his life today at his new home, Gary said, “Here I have a chance to be me again.”


Keeping Grandchildren Safe

Children who are impacted by addiction, crime, or neglect are placed into the foster care system, away from family members that know them and are willing to care for them during these traumatic times. Research shows that family connections are critical to healthy development, helping to maintain cultures, customs, and relationships for children. Yet the process to gain legal custody can be complex, lengthy, and confusing.

Our Kinship Care Unit advocates on behalf of clients like Barbara Linwood*, who fought for over 4 years to gain custody of her great-granddaughter when the newborn’s mother became incapable of caring for her. Barbara worked with our attorney to first become a registered foster parent, before finally gaining her right as the adoptive mother.

There is an overwhelming need to support dedicated caregivers like Barbara as they navigate the legal system and face everyday challenges.

*Client name has been changed for privacy reasons.


welcoming refugees

Zorobabel and his wife, Clarisse fled to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a war-torn country where 2 million children risk starvation and 4.5 million have been displaced in recent years.

After struggling to navigate the U.S. immigration system - studying and attempting to interview and pay for naturalization several times, they were ready to give up. Although they were willing to put in the time and effort necessary to gain citizenship, they felt like they had no options.

With our help, Zorobabel, Clarisse, and their two daughters were assisted with the steep application fees, and recommended for citizenship.

Zorobabel writes,

Being a U.S. citizen means a lot…we can exercise our rights and duties as Americans. Had it not been for the help of Fidele at the Center for Elder Law & Justice, we would not be naturalized.”


Stopping Abuse

The most common perpetrators of elder financial abuse are family members.

Florence was 93 years old when she discovered that she was a victim of elder abuse at the hands of her great-grandson. Each month, he would transfer most of her Social Security check to his own bank account, leaving Florence with $200 a month to live on.

With the help of CELJ, Florence found that over $14,000 had been taken from her. Although it was a difficult decision, Florence decided to let CELJ present the case to the District Attorney’s office. Her great-grandson pleaded guilty to a felony and had to serve jail time and pay restitution.

Not every victim of elder abuse is as strong and resolute as Florence was. There are many victims who never come forward. Every year, an estimated 5 million seniors are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

elderly man in wheelchair looking out the window


Even during this public health crisis, vulnerable older adults are faced with involuntary discharges from nursing homes. One client was told he would be discharged to the local homeless shelter and was not served with any type of written notice. Our legal team successfully kept this client from being left at the homeless shelter with no other options. After several calls and e-mails to the Department of Health, and working together with an ombudsman, our attorney was able to obtain written notice from the nursing home, appeal the discharge, and work with the client to find stable housing.


Our client John

keeping people in their homes

John is a 70-year-old Veteran who received a notice from the housing authority stating that he was responsible for thousands of dollars in back rent and that his current rent would also be raised.

John was unable to pay for basic necessities and could no longer do any activities outside of the home with his friends. The payments were making it impossible for him to live.

Our legal team at CELJ discovered that his Veteran’s benefits for exposure to Agent Orange should have been exempt from the calculation of his rent, and advocated on John’s behalf. John's rent was lowered, and he was returned the amount he had paid towards the back rent. John can now live independently and with a better quality of life.

Senior couple signing will documents. Elderly caucasian man and woman sitting at home and signing some paperwork, focus on hands.

Helping those who need it most

A recent client of ours had been living with diabetes since he was a child. From a young age, he experienced severe and dangerous episodes of diabetic shock. 15 years ago he began using a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system as a way to monitor his blood glucose levels. The CGM identifies low blood glucose levels, alerts him, and allows him to take the necessary steps to bring his glucose back to a healthy level.

When he turned 65 and enrolled in Medicare, the coverage for his CGM stopped and he had to pay out of pocket for this medical device, spending $18,000 over a 3-year period. 

Vulnerable older adults and people with disabilities are faced with enough challenges. Access to affordable healthcare should not be one of them.