Advocate Story

Our Advocate leads a team revitalizing a woman’s life

By Tony Polk

Old couple at the restaurant and having a good timeCecil, our advocate in Tucson and Southern Arizona, recently got a phone call from a Tucson area behavioral health center which needed help placing one of its patients. Helen (not her real name) was 66-year-old woman who had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Visiting a behavioral care center is not for the faint hearted. You see the least infirm when you first walk in, seemingly heavily sedated, subdued. Then you pass through a unit with more seriously ill patients; they’re crying out, weeping.  

Cecil found Helen in the unit for the most seriously ill. She was on the floor, in the corner of a dark room, in a fetal position, covered with a blanket.

“Go away. Go away,” she cried when Cecil tried to talk to her.

Helen was a ward of the State of Arizona because she seemed to have no family. The court had appointed a case management firm to ensure that Helen would continue to take her meds once she left the facility.  The case manager had heard mention of a brother in Idaho named Bob (also not his real name) but had not found him,

Cecil set about to find a long-term care facility for Helen. This was problematic because very few facilities in Tucson accept residents with behavioral problems. Cecil scoured the facilities in Tucson and finally found one, which would take Helen as soon as her conditions improved to a baseline it could manage.

Cecil also researched on the web to find Bob, the brother, himself 70 years old. When Cecil finally found him, Bob had no idea his sister was in trouble and wanted to become involved.  

Cecil directed Bob  to a local Elder Care attorney who Cecil had worked with and trusted. The attorney helped Bob secure Power of Attorney for his sister so he could manage her finances.

By taking the prescribed psychotropic drugs,  Helen’s condition began to improve.  Cecil visited regularly. There were also regular conference calls with the caregivers, the case manager, the assisted living home, the elder law lawyer and Bob

Finally, they determined that Helen’s condition had improved enough that she could make the move.  The director of the assisted living home got permission from corporate management  to allow the move even though money to pay for it would not be available for several months.

With Bob’s help, Cecil gained access to Helen’s home and brought clothing, personal items and family photos to adorn her walls and improve her spirits. Brother Bob called regularly.  

When Helen moved in, she was still deeply withdrawn and uncommunicative. But things began to change.  On one visit, Cecil found Helen with hair braided and smiling. Every visit revealed improvement. In time, Helen began to socialize. She befriended another resident. Eventually they decided to share a room together.

“She was really very social. Who knew?” said Cecil. “She is very happy now and that makes me very happy.”

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