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Fighting for the rights of seniors

Marcia McClocklin shows great skill as ombudsman volunteer


Being an ombudsman for the senior citizens of Clackamas County requires a nontypical person. Marcia McClocklin of West Linn fits the bill perfectly. by: CLIFF NEWELL - Marcia McClocklin has seen it all as a volunteer for the state Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

For 12 years she has been working to see that seniors receive the treatment they deserve and what the law requires. She is a volunteer with Oregon’s Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, bringing uncommon skills, qualifications, dedication and temperament to the job. Most of all, McClocklin loves her work. She launched her second career only six months after retiring as the supervisor of a psychiatric clinic for teens and families.

“I researched the job,” McClocklin said. “I learned that 60 percent of American senior citizens have no one to make sure their rights are taken care of, because they’re alone and elderly. We investigate 132 different facets of their care, from physical abuse to financial problems to medical care.

“They have the same rights we do. That is the thing that keeps me here. I want to make sure these people are treated with dignity and respect.”

McClocklin has just about seen it all as an ombudsman volunteer, usually dealing with physical, mental, sexual and financial abuse. Some cases are easy, some are quite involved, and McClocklin has been trained and certified to deal with any situation. Some of these situations can be sticky. An example:

“There was a family that restricted visits to a man in a senior living facility because he was too disabled to deal with everyday life. But he was lucid. He was helped so much by visits by a lady friend from church. This was one thing that really brought him joy. But his family feared the woman would make financial demands on him, even though everything was on the up and up.”

McClocklin moved in on this “very difficult case” with sensitivity and determination, meeting with the family several times and making sure the man’s rights were respected, and she convinced the family that the man should be able to receive visits from his friend.

Another feel-good success story for McClocklin was helping a woman who had largely given up on life after having to move to a senior living facility.

“This woman had been very active and extremely intelligent and interesting,” McClocklin said. “She built a fortress in her room with everything centered on her past. She was very isolated, depressed and angry.”

Through constant visits with the woman and the staff of the living facility, McClocklin helped transform the woman’s life.

“Today she is very involved in church. She’s in charge of the rose garden,” McClocklin said. “I point her out to the state supervisor and say, ‘She is the star.’ She has completely turned her life around.”

For McClocklin, the variety of cases she handles assure that being an ombudsman volunteer is constantly challenging and interesting.

“There’s no typical day,” she said. “Some cases are routine. On others I get very involved. It’s a wonderful job. I’m not restricted to certain days or hours.

“I’ve had a long history working in the helping profession and it comes naturally to me. Nothing shocks me. I find senior citizens to be so gracious. They’re also a gift to me. It doesn’t matter how small their complaint is. I want to help them.”

She added: “I’ve seen miracles happen.”

For more about Oregon’s Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, call Gretchen Jordan, coordinator of volunteers, at 503-378-6340 or visit oregon.gov/LTCO.



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