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Testimony of CLS Client Naomi Cain

Aging and Disabilities

Testimony of CLS Client Naomi Cain

Date Posted: 

The following testimony was delivered by CLS client Naomi Cain to the Philadelphia City Council Committee on Labor and Civil Service on June 15, 2016.

My name is Naomi Cain.  I’ll be 82 years old next month.  I live in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia.  I raised two children who are now adults, and I have been a widow for about 30 years.

I have worked for most of my life.  I was a practical nurse in the 1950s and worked in all of the major hospitals in Philadelphia.  This was back when you could work as a practical nurse without having a license.  After that, I worked as a clerk at Bell Telephone.  Then I worked as a kitchen supervisor for a law firm.  We prepared the lunches that the law firm served for their clients.  Then for many years I worked in home care, taking care of infants and children and sick adults.  I was also a nurse’s aide for the elderly for about seven years. 

I studied off and on for many years for my GED.  In 1990, I went to a program and finally finished my GED.  At the same time, I applied to Temple University to study social work through a program for non-traditional students called New Career Ladders.  I went through that program and received my bachelor’s degree from Temple in 1997.  I was 62 years old.  After I graduated, I worked for almost a year in foster care as a social worker for children.  Then I worked for a year taking reports for the protective services for the elderly program at PCA.  In my last job, I worked part time as a service coordinator at a senior apartment building.  I worked until I was 76 years old.  When you are older and you are working, they treat you differently.  When I was in my 60s, I felt like some of the people I worked for treated me like I was too old for the job.  That bothered me a lot. 

Now I live on Social Security.  I receive $1,028 per month.  I am lucky that my home is paid for, but I still really struggle to pay my property taxes and other bills.  My house needs repairs very badly.  I have lived there for over 50 years.  It needs a new roof, but I do not have the money in my budget to pay for that.  My kitchen and bathroom are also in bad shape, but I can’t get them fixed up.   And I also have to pay for some of my medical bills.  My income is just a little bit over the income limit for Medicaid.   I recently had hand surgery and cataract surgery, and I have several hundred dollars of bills from that.  I also have to pay when I go to see my cardiologist and my eye doctor.   I have gotten help from Community Legal Services and from a credit counselor at Clarifi to manage my bills and to avoid bankruptcy. 

It was instilled in me as a child to save.  My father used to say, “Naomi, save $5 a week, and over the years you will be surprised how much you can accumulate.”  However, I didn’t save, which was the biggest mistake of my life.  My retirement would be much better if I had, and now I wish that I had done that.  The jobs I had didn’t offer the opportunity to put money into 401ks.  If it had been available to me and I had known about it, I would have taken advantage of that opportunity.  

Seniors need to check for all of the resources that are out there that can help them with food, medical bills, health services and home repairs.  And if you’re not being treated well, you need to find someone you can trust to help you find resources to help.  Seniors are sometimes afraid to speak up because they are afraid they will lose whatever help they may be getting, but they need to speak up instead of just suffering.  You’re still a human being and deserve equal care like any other citizen, no matter how old you are.