Rana Goodman remembers her father as a proud man who kept his physique in top condition even as he got older.
“He was a World War II veteran who had a lot of strength even at the end of his life,” she said.
But when his health started to fade in the 2000s and he needed assistance, Goodman was there to look after and take care of him. She was surprised to learn that many seniors don’t have someone looking out for them toward the end of their lives, which led her on a crusade to speak about issues facing seniors.
After spending the last few years advocating for seniors’ rights, Goodman recently was recognized as the Nevada Senior Citizen of the Year.
“She was selected because of her tireless efforts to reform the guardianship system in Nevada,” said Herbert Randall, a member of the Nevada delegation for the National Silver Haired Congress and founder of the award. “She is the fourth recipient since it started.”
The group, along with the Aging Services Directors Organization, established the honor in 2013 to recognize those who are committed to seniors’ issues. Goodman is slated to be honored by the groups June 1.
Goodman never knew she would spend part of her life fighting for seniors’ rights. She had a thriving career in public relations. When her parents became ill, she closed her business to focus on taking care of them. After her parents died, she began searching for what to do next.
“I started writing, and like many writers, was determined to write the next great American novel,” she said.
While she was writing a book — she never finished that work — she was asked to contribute to The Vegas Voice, a publication for people 50 or older. During her time there, she wrote on a variety of issues such as problems she faced with homeowners associations. After a colleague told her about a senior who was having trouble with a guardian, she began exploring the subject.
“It just blew me away,” she said. “I never knew anything about it. A stranger can just come into your life and take over.”
She began hearing horror stories of people who have had bad experiences with guardians.
“They aren’t all bad,” she added.
However, she said she has heard of guardians who stole money from clients and caused them to lose their homes or estates.
“I couldn’t imagine working all these years for my money and have that happen,” she said.
Not only did she begin writing about the subject, she decided to start talking with legislators about ways to fix the laws.
Over the next legislative sessions, she testified on several bills that changed the rules on guardianship. Prior to these bills, Goodman said children of seniors couldn’t care for their parents if they were out of state.
“Guardians aren’t licensed, either,” she said. “You have to be licensed to cut hair or paint nails, but you don’t have to be licensed to manage people’s money and lives. It’s ridiculous.”
Both those issues have changed in the last few sessions.
Along with her writing, Goodman organized seminars at various senior facilities to talk about issues seniors should know about.
“We used to do about two or three a month,” she said. “It’s been a little slower. Any place that invites us to speak, we will set up the event for free.”
Goodman also tries to visit various senior facilities just to connect with the residents.
“A lot of them are just sitting there waiting to die,” she said. “They have no one to talk to.”
She never thought her work would be recognized and was surprised when she was honored.
Goodman said she isn’t through with fighting for seniors’ issues. She also sits on a Nevada Guardianship Commission and is trying to regulate the program.
“I will continue to fight for these issues as long as there are people who need to be looked after,” she said. “As long as I’m able-bodied, I will continue doing this.”
To reach Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-387-5201. Find him on Twitter: @mjlyle.