A dedicated advocate for older adults and their caregivers
Paul Izzo traces his interest in legal issues faced by the elderly to his close relationship with his grandparents when he was a child. In particular, he recalls when his paternal grandmother, who was by then a widow, needed to be placed in a long-term care facility. He says the process was “gut-wrenching,” but it ultimately led to her moving to a new home with excellent care where she was very happy.
“I was impressed with the treatment she received and with the great experience that she had,” Paul says. “That really stuck with me.”
Today, Paul works in the field of elder law, helping older adults and their caregivers as they navigate knotty issues such as estate planning and administration, guardianships and conservatorships for incapacitated adults, public benefits planning, and nursing home residents’ rights. He says he appreciates the opportunity to help a population that faces a unique set of challenges—often with a point of view that Paul finds powerful.
“A big reason that I do what I do is that I enjoy working with older adults,” Paul says. “I admire them and learn so much more from them than I could ever possibly teach them. My clients are some of the most interesting people that you could ever hope to meet.”
Paul began to gravitate toward elder law when he was in private practice and was selected for an internship in long-term care administration at Westminster-Canterbury House, a retirement community in Richmond. There, he learned the intricate operations of continuing care retirement facilities and the issues their residents face, eventually sitting for the licensure exam for nursing home administrators in 1985. He has maintained the license in subsequent years to keep informed of the special concerns of clients with loved ones in long-term care or who are themselves receiving such care.
Paul later came to ThompsonMcMullan to work with Shawn Majette, one of the country’s leading experts in elder law. He credits Shawn with serving as a mentor who helped him gain his footing in the field and providing him with continued guidance on both the intellectual and emotional components of the work. Paul says he aims to approach his clients with empathy, patience, and a keen understanding of how daunting the issues they face can be.
“I feel very fortunate to help older adults and their caregivers cope with the difficult, confusing challenges that they face,” Paul says. “I want to do what I can help them maintain their quality of life and their personal and financial independence as best as I can.”
Paul gained a new level of awareness for the emotional and physical challenges his clients face when his parents abruptly needed to enter assisted living, forcing him to contend with many of the issues he had helped clients navigate for years.
“It can be a huge undertaking for the children of adults who reach that point in their lives,” Paul says. “It’s confusing and exhausting, and it’s important to me that I do what I can in my work to help their experiences be less emotionally fraught.”
In Paul’s practice, he works not only with older adults and caregivers but with others faced with difficult estate planning challenges, such as helping a couple when one faces a terminal illness or advising parents with a special-needs child. No matter the client, Paul says he takes seriously that his work can provide a crucial sense of comfort when it is particularly needed.
“I feel as though I can help my clients when everything else feels out of their control,” he says. “I want to help them find some peace of mind.”