Aging Well

Aging Well

What is an Aging Life Care Manager?

Posted March 15, 2018 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2018 8:18 a.m. EDT

Gretchen Napier of Life Links

Another critical and relatively recently-established profession is an Aging Life Care Manager (formerly known as a Geriatric Care Manager). I recently asked Meike Wiest, MSW, CMC, an Advanced Professional Aging Life Care™ Manager at Lifelinks, to answer some questions.

  1. What does an Aging Life Care™ Manager do?
    For over 30 years, our profession was known as Geriatric Care Management. By 2012, it became clear that the term "care manager" and even "geriatric care manager" had been appropriated by other service providers and no longer adequately communicated the profession as practiced by members of The Aging Life Care Association. In 2015, the Association reintroduced our profession with a new brand: Aging Life Care – a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges. Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides the answers at a time of uncertainty. Our 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.
  2. What is your background and/or training?
    I have a Master's degree in social work and am certified as a care manager. In general, the Aging Life Care Professional is educated and experienced in any of several fields related to aging life care management, including, but not limited to nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care.
  3. What value do you bring to your clients?
    Our guidance leads individuals and their families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life, thus reducing worry, stress and safety concerns for family caregivers through:
    - Assessing and monitoring
    - Planning and problem-solving
    - Education and advocacy
    - Family caregiver coaching
    The value of an Aging Life Care Professional can be summarized into 8 knowledge areas: Health & Disability, Financial, Housing, Families, Local Resources, Advocacy, Legal and Crisis Intervention.
  4. Are there credentials? If so, what kind of credentials should we look for when selecting Aging Life Care™ Manager?
    The Aging Life Care Association, or ALCA, requires its members to meet stringent education and experience qualifications to be eligible for the certification exam, and then we are held to strict ethical guidelines according to our Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Those at the Advanced Professional level, like myself, must have at least a Master’s degree with two years of supervised care management experience and then pass the four hour exam.
  5. What are the three most common reasons people contact you?
    - Overwhelmed – We age at a gradual rate, but then suddenly, there is a point of unsustainability where the older adult simply isn’t safe anymore, or the caregiver simply can't do it all anymore. Sometimes caregiving becomes too complex for a layman or they are members of the "Sandwich Generation." While their aging parents are beginning to require assistance, they are still raising children at home., juggle a career etc.
    - Long Distance – Approximately 5-7 million caregivers in the U.S. (about 15% of all caregivers) are long-distance caregivers. This number is projected to double by 2020.
  6. Tell me one story about how you have helped a client?
    We recently received a referral from an attorney. Her client was an out-of-town woman, worried about an elderly brother with a developmental disability who lives alone in Raleigh. Another local sibling used to be his main support and recently passed away. She now worried about his ability to support himself. We were able to do an assessment, identified issues that needed to be addressed and were able to put supports in place to ensure this gentleman could continue to live alone. Some of these supports include home care services three days per week to assist with shopping and socialization, a regular cleaning service, medication deliveries and a laundry service. We continue to monitor these services and coordinate his doctors' appointments, which we attend to ensure changes are communicated to his sister and doctors' orders are implemented.
  7. How do I find an Aging Life Care Manager if I don’t live in this region? Is there a database or association I should search?
    To learn more about the Aging Life Care Association or find a member in another part of the country, they can go to Aging Life Care and click on the "Find an Aging Life Care Expert" to search by city or zip code. Additionally, our CEO, Gretchen Napier, is president of the Southeast Chapter of ALCA, and she would be happy to make a personal connection (Gretchen@LifeLinks.Care).
  8. What can I expect to pay for these services?
    Each Aging Life Care Professional can set his or her own charges, but nationally the hourly rate is usually between $75 and $200 per hour. Cities like Manhattan see fees as high as $400/hour!
  9. What are names of other individuals/agencies working in this region in this space?
    Membership in the Aging Life Care Association is by individual, not agency, so in the Triangle Area this includes, in alphabetical order: Ellen Beechold, Deborah Bonné, Kimberly Cannan, Patricia Cook, Kathleen Griffin, Jennie Griggs, Sharon Kilpatrick, Camille Koonce, Beth Levine, Heather McLaughlin, Vivian McLaurin, Rausa McMannis, Carla Payne, Laurie Ray, Adrian Sanders, Amanda Summerson, Jasmine Thurston, Lauren Watral and Angela Woodard.
  10. Any additional advice?
    Delaying or putting off hiring an Aging Life Care Manager can cost you more in the long run. The earlier you acknowledge there are issues, the easier and more affordably those issues can be resolved.
    When hiring a professional for guidance, it is important for the wise consumer to ask questions. Some of these include:
  • What are the primary services provided by your agency/company?
  • How many professional are in your agency/company?
  • Is there a fee for the initial consultation and, if so, how much?
  • What are your professional credentials?
  • Are you licensed in your profession?
  • How long have you been providing these services?
  • Are you available for emergencies?
  • How do you communicate information?
  • What are your fees? (These should be provided to the consumer/responsible party in writing prior to services starting.)
  • Can you provide me with references?