Working with an Aging Life Care Professional
Engaging an aging life care professional (previously known as geriatric care manager) is the first step many families take when seeking help for themselves or family members dealing with the challenges of aging. The aging life care profession is relatively new and grew out of the social service field. As the aging population began living independently of their families and living longer lives, a need for direct care of this population arose, and thus the field of aging life care management emerged.
Most aging life care professionals come from the health and human service fields. Many have a master’s degree in social work, psychology, nursing or geriatrics. In the past 30 years the Aging Life Care Association emerged to help professionalize the field of care management and has become a resource for families seeking help.
Usually, the aging life care professional’s first step is completion of an assessment of the older adult including the physical, mental, spiritual, legal, financial, psychological, emotional, environmental and social state of the individual. This assessment then is presented to the client along with a plan of care. The plan of care may include recommendations such as medical testing, environmental modifications, or home care. Aging life care professionals can help implement the plan of care and help individuals and families find the best solutions for the given situation. They also serve as the eyes and ears to family members who live out of the area. In several cases, the older adult and family members gain a peace of mind knowing someone is available to help navigate through the myriad of situations that may arise as one ages. It is recommended that an updated assessment be completed every 12 months as a preventative course of action. Aging life care professionals also typically have a network of health care and other professionals that they have vetted and can recommend to clients.
Aging life care professionals can save individuals and families considerable time and money. Many family members attempt to care for themselves or their loved ones without a good handle on the resources available. Many times decisions are made while the older adult is in crisis, and in most cases, these decisions are not the best choices. Aging life care professionals can help to assess the current situation and most times offer options and solutions that the older adult or family members were unaware existed. In one case, a husband called for an assessment on his wife who had moderate dementia. After a thorough assessment, it was determined that the couple was eligible for several county programs at little or no cost to them. For three years, the husband had been caring for his wife with no help or knowledge of the many services available to both of them.
Aging life care professionals are available throughout the country, and are a great first step when dealing with the challenges of aging. Go to www.aginglifecare.org to find an aging life care professional in your area.
Nikhil Mehta is Owner/CEO of Home Care Assistance Palm Desert, a revolutionary in-home care group which offers clients The Balanced Care Method™ which emphasizes mental, physical and social activity along with healthy nutrition, calmness and purpose and the patent-pending activities based Cognitive Therapeutics MethodTM, designed to slow the symptoms of cognitive decline. For more information visit www.HomeCareAssistancePalmDesert.com or call (760) 345.0001.