All posts by Samantha Colaianni

Caring for a Spouse – Navigating the Aging Journey Together

At some point along the path of life, we step into the path of being a caregiver; we expected this as we became parents or as our own parents aged.  But when we married someone, this role was not delineated in our dreams or vision of our vows of “from this day forward!”

Our partners are often the same age cohort as we, so we could both have some physical challenges, making our role even more challenging.  The role “caregiver” could have come on suddenly after a medical incident or serious fall; or it might have come upon the two of you so gradually that you struggled with accepting that you are now responsible for the both of you and, yes, you are “it!”

Literally in some relationships, especially those without children or close family and friends to offer support, the burden can become great when you have no one to share the emotional toll as well as the physical exhaustion that can come with this role.

Those caring for someone with just physical challenges still have a partner to be in relationship with; this doesn’t mean it is easy. It just means you have someone to connect with that you have loved over the years and you usually want the very best for that partner.   However, there are those of you who are caring for a partner that has a serious cognitive issue like Alzheimer ’s disease.  That becomes a place of loneliness for the well spouse because the partner with the cognitive issues loses the ability to understand and partner in a loving relationship as the disease progresses.

You should begin planning for the two of you way before one of you needs care.  However, that almost never happens.  It is usually someone in the circle of care that says to you, “you need help.”  Of course, they don’t know where or who you should seek to be your “navigator.” The answer is a Professional Aging Life Care Expert, formerly called geriatric care managers.

The Aging Life Care Expert is usually a Master’s level prepared professional, credentialed and certified with a background in social work, counseling, psychology, gerontology, nursing or related fields.  They will assess the current situation, project what you might need in the future and connect you to vetted professionals in the fields of law, medicine, socialization, spirituality, stress reduction and financial planning.

That is just their first step – getting you the documents, services and advice that will put you on solid ground.  When it comes to dilemmas with medical issues, they will become your advocate in that area – partnering with you to ask the right questions and get the specialist you and your spouse need now.  They will be your guide to obtain benefits from insurances, entitlements, government services or community services.  They are always available to you.  When you don’t know what you don’t know, they will be your compass, leading the way so you can stay healthy and not become a victim of over caring and burnout.

Many Aging Life Care Experts run support groups for spousal caregivers or know where to find one – that might be your first step in getting on the right path.  This is a journey that requires a trusted coach, a guide navigator.  You would not venture on a voyage without one.  Find an advocate for yourself; it will impact the quality of both of your lives.

To find a Professional Aging Life Care expert is easy – just go to the website (www.aginglifecare.org) and put in your zip code.  Call at least 3 of the people listed in your area; ask about how long they have been doing this type of work, not how long they have been a care manager.  Ask about certification – you want a certification approved by the Aging Life Care Association – that gives you peace of mind that they have the skills and expertise you need.

About the Author: Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, is an Advanced Professional Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy. You can find her at www.eldercareanswers.com.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Trip Tips for Older Travelers with Health Considerations

Trip Tips for Older Travelers with Health Considerations

By Amanda Lewis, BA, CMC, Certified Care Manager, Aging Wisdom, LLC

Summer is a wonderful time for traveling. Neither age nor health should keep you from going on a vacation. With some thoughtful planning, a trip to visit with family and friends or to visit specific destinations can be a joy.

As Aging Life Care Professionals®, we can assist individuals and families in planning for travel success and use our experience to help clients anticipate and address potential obstacles.

Here are some ideas for planning ahead that will help ensure you or an older loved one is ready for an adventure:

  1. Consider your strengths and interests and let those be your guide.
  2. Have a written, shareable itinerary and make sure that others have it too.
  3. Take breaks and enlist help.
  4. If you take medication, have a pill organizer (some refer to it as a medi-set) filled and in your carry-on baggage. Include instructions.
  5. Have an ID card with emergency contact and health information.
  6. If traveling internationally, make sure you have an international call plan for your phone. Also, you may want to look into overseas coverage on your insurance.

 

Focus on strengths and interests in planning a trip. What do we mean by strengths? Too often, people will dismiss the idea of travel based on mobility limitations or concerns about cognitive changes. We take a strengths-based approach in advising clients. We acknowledge the health concerns, but also believe that engagement can take many different forms and offer advice accordingly.

 

Have an itinerary. Plan ahead. Whether traveling by car or air, an itinerary is essential and helps guide the trip. Don’t pack too much into a day. Recognize that time differences, new surroundings, and too much activity can play havoc on sleep patterns, appetite, and your sense of well-being. Best to specifically tailor your travel with intentional down time. Be flexible. Not everything will go according to plan, so roll with the punches. A good sense of humor helps too.

 

Take breaks. Enlist help. When traveling by car, plan regular stops along the way. Frequent breaks are important to stretch your legs, use the facilities, hydrate, and nourish the mind, body, and soul. If flying, make sure that you have an escort at both ends if the older adult is traveling alone. If someone has health concerns, you can arrange for a traveling nurse as an escort.

 

Medication management. A few simple steps can ensure that medications aren’t an impediment to travel. Pill organizers are inexpensive and can help enormously. Or, you can also arrange to have your pills prepackaged through your pharmacy. Make sure to have the organizer or packs in your carry-on luggage in case your other luggage goes missing. In addition, a written prescription list and instructions, packed along with the organizer, can help others in assisting. Make sure you know of pharmacies at your destination too, just in case.

 

ID card with emergency contact and health information. We routinely create this document as a way to provide added support for our clients. If, for some reason, the individual has a medical emergency or is unable to communicate, the emergency contact information card is a quick reference to help connect with family, support and medical professionals.

 

International travel considerations include having an international calling plan for your phone, so you’re not surprised by extra charges when you return home. And when traveling overseas, look into global medical insurance coverage as well for extra peace of mind while traveling.

Still not confident about traveling with health considerations? Call an Aging Life Care Manager for a consultation. We can work with you to make sure that everything is organized, reviewed and ready for you to have a successful trip.

To find your own professional advisor, go to www.aginglifecare.org and click on “Find an Expert.”

Amanda Lewis, BA, CMC, is a Certified Care Manager at Aging Wisdom with over 5 years of experience in care management. She assists clients living with severe chronic medical conditions optimize their health and quality of life.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Aging Well: Lifestyle Choices Enhance Brain Health

Courtesy Frye Art Museum. Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit.

By Keri Pollock

Lifestyle choices are some of the most effective and easiest ways to enhance brain health. What we eat, how we spend our free time, how much physical activity and social enrichment we engage in, all play a part. And anything positive you do for your heart will also benefit your brain.

Last week (July 14-18) the AAIC 2019 – Alzheimer’s Association International Conference – took place in Los Angeles. There, over 5,000 dementia researchers, students and faculty from around the world came together to share their discoveries.

This year, as in previous years, several presentations focused on Alzheimer’s prevention and the common thread of these research studies show how adopting a healthy lifestyle may offset environmental and genetic risks of developing dementia, as well as support brain health.

As Aging Life Care Professionals®, we are always on the outlook for how to weave healthy lifestyle practices into our clients’ lives (as well as our own).  Cognitive stimulation and social connection through arts engagement programs are some of our clients’ favorite activities and are rich in benefits. Clients’ lives are enriched by music (including visits to the symphony or opera), dance, garden walks, Alzheimer’s cafes, art gallery talks, movie discussions, and hands-on arts programs. They open doors to creativity, new friendships, a renewed sense of purpose, and often, improved mood, reduced anxiety, increased appetite, and better sleep.

Let’s take a look at some of the healthy lifestyle habits that researchers found contribute to brain (and heart) health and may decrease the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, as well as slow the progression of dementia:

 

  • A healthy diet. “This would include eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and plenty of fish and non-processed foods,” says El?bieta Ku?ma, PhD, a research fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School and presenter at AAIC 2019. The Mediterranean diet, which stresses the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil, is often cited as a good model for brain health nutrition.

 

  • Stop smoking. If you are a smoker, quit. As a former smoker (30 years smoke-free), I know how difficult this is. But the benefits of quitting are overwhelming. Many health care systems and hospitals offer smoke cessation programs and support groups. Not only is smoking a financial drain, but it is also a drain on health. Here are some smoke cessation ideas from the CDC that you may find helpful.

 

  • Engage in regular exercise. Optimal exercise is defined as regular physical activity of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week — or an equivalent combination. Find something you love to do — walking, hiking, bicycling, dancing, swimming – and do it regularly. Find classes or friends with whom to engage in regular exercise, as it will help with encouragement and accountability.

 

  • Cognitive stimulation. Engaging in lifelong learning seems to be key. The brain is constantly building new neural pathways. Read, take classes, learn new things. Our brains our hungry to intellectual nourishment. Here’s a recent story about how research is showing great benefits of learning new things and the positive impact on thinking and memory: Want to keep your brain sharp in old age? Go back to school

 

  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Excessive consumption of alcohol can contribute to a myriad of health challenges, adverse effects on the nervous system and can be a factor in falls and other preventable accidents. If you do drink, do so in moderation. A recent study defined moderate consumption as the equivalent of two glasses of wine a night.

 

  • Stay socially engaged. More and more research students show a tie between social isolation and loneliness and poor outcomes for cognitive and physical health. When we engage in conversation and community with others, our moods are positively affected, we tend to make more healthy choices, and it contributes to cognitive stimulation. Community and senior centers, faith communities, neighborhood gatherings, alumni associations for schools and workplaces are some of the places to get connected.

 

  • Follow medical advice for managing chronic conditions that affect the brain such as hypertension and diabetes. Both of these conditions are leading contributors, unchecked, to cognitive impairment.

 

  • Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can impair cognitive function. Six to eight hours a night of quality sleep is what is recommended. If you have sleep apnea, or are concerned about this condition, check with your health care provider for testing as heavy snoring and sleep apnea are tied to cognitive decline. Adequate, consistent sleep is restorative, healing, and necessary to supporting brain health. Sleep is the brain’s way of cleaning house.

Need extra encouragement? Consider this: according to the Alzheimer’s Association, reporting from the AAIC 2019, “One study reported that participants who adopted four or five low-risk lifestyle factors had about 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s dementia compared with participants who did not follow any or only one of the low-risk factors.”

RESOURCES

About the author: Keri Pollock has worked in the field of aging for over 25 years and directs marketing and communications for Aging Wisdom, an Aging Life Care™ practice in Seattle. She serves on the Alzheimer’s Association, Washington State Chapter Discovery Conference Planning Committee, and the Creative Aging Programs Advisory Committee at the Frye Art Museum. Follow Aging Wisdom on FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn and SoundCloud.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

life insurance

Creative Planning: Life Insurance Policy Can Help Pay for Care

By Lisa Rehburg

Healthcare and long term care expenses can be significant as we age.  An article in the May edition of  The CPA Journal explained that “50% of individuals over age 85 will need assistance with daily functioning because of medical problems (both physical and cognitive), and chronic care at home, in an assisted living facility or in a skilled nursing home, can cost anywhere from $60,000 – $180,000 per year.”  In addition, a sample survey of ALCA membership indicates that 50% of clients can afford $2000/month, 30% can afford $5000/month, and 20%+ can afford $10,000/month for products and services related to long term care. Clearly, funding for care is a major issue. But, what is the solution?

One solution that very few people think of is their life insurance policy. Life insurance is an important financial planning tool. Many times, especially as we get older, the reason we purchased the policy 5, 10, 20, or even 30 years ago, is no longer an issue. The house is now paid off; the person has retired and no longer needs the income replacement; a policy purchased for estate tax purposes is no longer needed due to tax reform; a term policy is coming to an end; a business or other asset has been sold; or the policy has become too expensive. Whatever the reason, the policy is no longer needed or wanted.

Life insurance policies can be sold, just like a house. There are investor groups willing to purchase these policies for a lump sum in cash. This process is called a life insurance settlement, and can be an additional healthcare funding source for clients. A life insurance settlement generates, on average, 3 – 5 times the cash surrender value of the policy. Yes, even term policies can be sold!  And, life insurance settlements are highly regulated by Departments of Insurance across the country.

An Insurance Studies Institute survey estimates 500,000 seniors a year lapse their life insurance policies, walking away with little to nothing. 90% of surveyed seniors indicated had they known about a life insurance settlement, they would have considered it. Life insurance settlements convert an asset that a client no longer needs or wants, into cash, which can be used for anything…including the cost of care.

 

About the Author: Lisa Rehburg is a life insurance settlements broker and has been in the insurance industry for 30 years.  She can be reached at (714) 349-7981 or lrehburg@aol.com.   More information is also available at www.rehburglifesettlements.com.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

 

 

Caring for the Caregiver: Emotional Support After a Loved One’s Dementia Diagnosis

By Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

When a parent or spouse can no longer do what they did yesterday, it becomes another transition for the primary caregiver and for the extended family.

These transitions catch us off guard and an overwhelming sense of loss and grief is experienced by the primary care provider.  They often don’t label this as a grief process, but it is about loss – however slow – still has the power to stop us in our tracks.

If you are caring for someone with progressive dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, you most probably have had a similar experience.  I think of a story of a spouse who called me one day in tears and said, “Linda, I thought I had accepted this disease and today my wife could not remember how to get toothpaste out of the tube. I could not even help her; I just had to go into the other room and cry.”

And that is what we need to do with this type of pain – express it, find someone to discuss it with and move on.   What this gentleman said to me a few weeks later is, “I just put the toothpaste on the brush and then she knows what to do and soon I’ll probably have to help her brush as well. And, when that happens, I’ll probably have those same feelings all over again. But, today we are enjoying our backyard and watching the birds at the feeders with great pleasure.”

The answer is yes if you can learn to have your feelings, express them, find a coping mechanism, preserve the dignity of the person with the dementia and then move on to what you can enjoy together to make this a less painful journey.

The moment is all each of us has.  However, we feel pain at little losses as well as big ones and it is essential to do the grief work and not let it eat at your inner soul.

Aging Life Care Professionals can assist spouses and other family members to move through these transitions with grace and empathy – one needs a coach and mentor in order to preserve one’s perspective.

To find an Aging Life Care Professional near you go to the Aging Life Care Association at www.aginglifecare.org.


About the Author: Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, is an Advanced Professional Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy. You can find her at www.eldercareanswers.com.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Nurturing the Nurturer: The Use of Doll Therapy for Older Adults

By Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM

As Aging Life Care Professionals®, when we are asked to assist with securing placement in a nursing home, there are many questions we ask beyond the physical and cognitive conditions that are prompting the move. Primary among those questions is: what was mom or dad’s occupation? Those families who have parents in their mid-eighties and beyond often reply by giving dad’s occupation and the fact that mom was a homemaker.

Reembraces of livelong professions can be retained long after actual employment or the responsibilities of raising a family have ceased.  Take Gene, a retired fireman who had been diagnosed with dementia.  On the day he arrived at the nursing home, being the conscientious firefighter he once was, he spotted a fire extinguisher and was headed straight to his job. Fortunately, his daughter positioned herself to block his access.

For mothers and wives of this era the role of family nurturer is often rooted in the person. This is not to say that fathers have not played prominent roles, but for mothers or other women that have been employed in caregiving roles, it is not a job that finished at five. In later years, should there be cognitive loss accompanied by agitation we, as Aging Life Care Professionals, look to guide the family in ways to lessen the anxiety their loved one may be experiencing. Nonpharmacological approaches are preferable. One such method is doll therapy.

Doll therapy is just what it says. It is providing a person with a doll, that she/he can hold, cuddle, talk to, even dress and undress.  The latter helping with finger dexterity and hand eye co-ordination. The doll can give a person a sense of comfort and purpose with the goal being redirecting the anxiety and bringing a parent to a sense of calm and contentment. Beyond this, a doll can be a starting point for reminiscence, asking a parent to recall their days as a new parent, bearing in mind that it is the long-term memory that is most vivid.

Research studies have shown both increased happiness and increased social interaction using doll therapy. But doll therapy is not without controversy. Some feel the dignity of a parent is compromised using a doll.  Other concerns are that dolls are demeaning and infantilize older adults. A passerby may look at a person with a doll and remark that the senior looks “cute” holding a doll. Not the way a relative wants their spouse or parent to be perceived.

As Aging Life Care Professionals, our approach is a person-centered one. To each client, we bring a toolbox of suggestions, techniques and resources. While the use of doll therapy is one such example, we customize the guidance, recognizing the unique needs of each client while working together with families to ensure practical and realistic outcomes.


About the Author: Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM, is the founder of Directions in Aging based in Westchester County, New York. For over two decades she has assisted families in customizing plans of care and developing effective strategies to meet the needs of senior adults.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

The Most Surprising Secret to Aging Well: Social Engagement

The Most Surprising Secret to Aging Well: Social Engagement

by Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC

Ask anyone for their top advice about living a long, healthy life and you’ll probably hear tips about the importance of eating well, stopping smoking, exercising and getting regular medical checkups. Don’t throw those good habits out the window, but it may come as a shock to learn that connecting with others could be the single most important ingredient for aging well.

It’s true! Researchers have been studying the impact of social isolation and loneliness on health and wellbeing for many years. Over and over it has been proven that social support acts as a buffer against illness and cognitive decline. Loneliness and seclusion is thought to be as bad as or worse for your health than smoking, obesity or being an alcoholic. Put simply, loneliness breeds illness and early death.

How to spot problems

How can you tell if an older adult is at risk of isolation? There are telltale signs that may indicate a need for extra support:

  • Living alone
  • Family living at a distance
  • Poor hearing and/or vision
  • Memory loss or other cognitive problems
  • Difficulty getting around (trouble walking, unable to drive or access transportation)
  • Significant life changes such as the recent loss of a partner or moving to a new home

Protecting health by connecting

Why is being around others so important to wellbeing? Social connectedness increases resistance to disease. Older people who regularly interact with family, friends and participate in social activities report better emotional and physical health and show improvement performing some mental tasks. Those with strong social ties require less pain medication after surgery and recover more quickly. They also fall less often, are better nourished and have a lower risk of depression.

Contact with others can feed the spirit by bringing meaning and purpose to each day. It’s reciprocal – both parties benefit. Regardless of one’s age, when we are around others we give and receive support as well as hands-on assistance.

Tips for connecting

There are numerous ways older people can connect. Here are just a few:

  • Visiting children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors
  • Participating in faith activities, services, studies and social events
  • Signing up for trips sponsored by local community centers
  • Volunteering at schools, hospitals or local non-profit organizations
  • Taking classes or attending lectures at local libraries, schools and other community venues
  • Joining a book group or social club

These activities can help older adults develop deeper relationships with others who have similar interests and passions. They can expose them to new people, projects and ideas, and help foster confidence, and direction in their lives. If your dad becomes involved with a cause that is important, it helps him keep life in perspective and reminds him that he has a lot to offer the world.

What if your mother-in-law can’t get out anymore? Bring activities to her. Set up a schedule of visitors made up of family, friends or paid companions. Modify activities to match her abilities. Reach out to a professional to help design an individualized program if you don’t know what to do or have trouble implementing a plan.

Is there a downside?

Even though there is an undeniable connection between having robust social ties and good health, no single type of support is uniformly effective for all people and all situations. Unneeded or the wrong kind of help may reduce an older loved one’s sense of independence and self-esteem. Preventing them from doing things on their own can lead to a state of “learned helplessness” – loss of confidence and less willingness to try things independently. 

Working with an expert

Aging Life Care Professionals (also known as a geriatric care managers) are trusted advisors who can thoroughly evaluate an individual’s situation and provide you with expert guidance about how to help:

  • reduce social isolation
  • provide just the right kind and right amount of help
  • arrange individualized activities and companion services
  • overcome barriers such as resistance to change
  • open doors to possibilities you may never have imagined

An Aging Life Care Manager can also become your eyes and ears by:

  • making regular visits to check in on your parent
  • monitoring your parent’s health and addressing concerns when they arise

With the help of an Aging Life Care Manager you can more easily stay on top of your mom’s situation and rest a little easier knowing she is getting the vital support she needs.

To find your own professional advisor, go to www.aginglifecare.org and click on “Find an Expert”.


Jullie Gray is a Fellow of the Leadership Academy and has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging. She is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA. Jullie is the President of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the Past President of the Aging Life Care™ Association.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Stories and Highlights of National Aging Life Care Month

Aging Life Care Professionals® across the country celebrated National Aging Life Care™ Month by providing seminars, webinars, special events, open houses, and other educational activities for the public.

Many took to social media to share Aging Life Care stories via selfies and videos. Each week, ALCA asked members to share something from their world as Aging Life Care Professionals. During the month, several common themes emerged – a passion for helping families through difficult times, an appreciation for the wisdom of an older generation, resiliency, advocacy, care, and the need for daily hope and laughter. Below is a look at some of  the photos shared during #AgingLifeCareMonth.

As our population ages, it becomes more and more important to plan for the many years ahead. The entire reason for National Aging Life Care Month is not only to bring awareness about aging well, but to celebrate those who have dedicated their lives to helping older adults and their families. We celebrate Aging Life Care Professionals, because they bring kindness, heart, and compassion to the field. Without them, ALCA wouldn’t be the incredible organization that it is.

For the first time this year, we also featured a social media map to highlight all of the amazing participation of our members. You can find the map here.

To learn more about Aging Life Care™ and to find an expert in aging well, visit aginglifecare.org.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

MAY IS NATIONAL AGING LIFE CARE™ MONTH

The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) – the nonprofit association representing 2,000 leaders in Aging Life Care™ / care management – will celebrate the profession during the month of May. Special events come on the heels of a professional conference in Scottsdale, where presenters and participants tackled the toughest issues related to aging today.

What is Aging Life Care™ and Why Should I Care?

While the practice and profession of Aging Life Care is not new, there is more attention being paid to the impact our aging population has on communities and resources. Aging Life Care plays an important role as these professionals are prepared to help aging adults plan for and face age-related challenges.

Aging Life Care is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing health challenges. The Aging Life Care Professional® is a health and human services specialist who is a guide, advocate, and resource for families caring for an older relative or disabled adult. Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides the answers at a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress and time off of work for family caregivers.

housing, crisis, advocacy, legal, communication, financial, health and disabilityThey have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in their communities. Aging Life Care Professionals are members of the Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA), must meet stringent education, experience, and certification requirements of the organization, and all members are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice.

Aging Life Care Professionals throughout the country will celebrate National Aging Life Care Month by providing seminars, webinars, special events, open houses, and other educational activities for the public. For more information, and locations of Aging Life Care Professionals, visit ALCA’s website aginglifecare.org.

The association was formed in 1985 by a group of about 50 members – mainly social workers and nurses –  who came together to build a profession from the ground up. “Our association was the first to represent the pioneers in a growing and developing field,” said ALCA CEO Taney Hamill.

“ALCA recognizes the vulnerable population our professionals serve, so we have developed the highest standards by which to hold our members accountable – for both the protection of the client and the public.”

Aging Life Care Professionals may be trained in any of a number of fields related to long-term care. These include counseling, gerontology, mental health, nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, social work, and other allied health professions, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Aging Life Care® Professionals Can Help Be Your Guilt-Buster

By Lisa Mayfield, MA, LMHC, GMHS, CMC

May is Aging Life Care™ Month, which has me thinking about how supporting an aging parent can feel so daunting. We see it every day in our work as Aging Life Care Professionals®.

Time consuming. Caring for an aging parent takes so much time: multiple phone calls a day (sometimes within an hour!), numerous medical appointments (if only they would agree to go), hours in the ER, and repeated check-ins for reassurance.

Stressful. Juggling work, kids, relationships, and other demands on your time increasingly feels unmanageable, especially as your parents demand more and more from you. Every time you plan a vacation, one of them inevitably lands in the hospital.

Confusing & overwhelming. Your parents continue to refuse any formal help and won’t even admit there is a problem. If only they would move. Or your siblings would do more! The hospital social worker gave you a stack of information, but it remains untouched on your desk. Your dad is so stubborn, it’s all pointless anyways.

Daunting. Your online research only makes the options more confusing. You end up with more questions than answers. Should you force them to move? Which caregiving agency is reputable? Maybe their housekeeper should also do the grocery shopping or start making meals? What about hiring that nice lady at church to help? Why is their doctor still letting them drive? What if they just move in with you?

Expensive. All of the options are so expensive. Round-the-clock caregiving can reach as high as $20,000+ a month in many areas. Moving can cost less…until significant help is needed. Even though your parents have the financial means, they have always been frugal and will never agree to the costs. You are willing to contribute but paying for college is just around the corner.

Here’s how an Aging Life Care Professional can smooth the ride:

Save time & money. A consultation with an Aging Life Care Professional saves you valuable time. We walk you through all of the options, including analyzing the pros & cons to your parents staying at home or moving into a retirement community. Every situation is unique. We help you make plans that fit your parents’ finances, quirky personalities, divergent care needs, and loudly-stated desires. We assist you in making decisions that their finances can support now and down the road. Most importantly, we help you implement them.

Clarity & confidence. An Aging Life Care Professional will help you understand all of your choices. This knowledge will bring clarity to the decisions that you need to make. Sometimes starting small and going slow will actually get you further in the long run. We help you navigate the delicate balance of honoring fierce independence vs keeping them safe. We even help get challenging siblings (or step-parents) on the same page. Having an outside guide and unbiased expert is often the missing piece of the puzzle to move from crisis to action. We can often predict what will come next so we can help you shift from putting out fires (sometimes literally!) to being proactive.

Peace of mind. Watching your parents decline is not easy and brings up many emotions — sadness, anger, frustration, and guilt (oh, the guilt!). Eventually it will take a toll on your health, mood, and family. Work performance often suffers. Having an experienced professional help you navigate this long journey can provide great relief. You don’t have to do this alone.

You can find an Aging Life Care professional in your area at www.aginglifecare.org. We are here to help.


Lisa Mayfield is the founder and co-Principal of Aging Wisdom®, an Aging Life Care™ practice in Seattle. Trained and licensed as a Mental Health Counselor, Geriatric Mental Health Specialist, and a Certified Care Manager, Lisa brings over two decades of experience working with older adults and their families. She is currently serving as the President of the Aging Life Care Association board of directors.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.