Q. What is an Eldercare Consultant? Do they need to be certified?
A. An Eldercare Consultant is someone who can work with the senior and their family, caregivers, and other forms of support to assess the senior’s needs, identify resources and/or custom tailored solutions and create a plan of action. One of the largest concerns families face in the care of their senior is accurately recognizing what that person needs and where to find the help.
There is a wide-range of professionals who call themselves Eldercare Consultants and not all of them are certified or hold a degree. Many have degrees in geriatric care management, nursing or social work while others have evolved into the role through years of personal caregiving and/or working in hospitals or nursing homes. While there are several certification programs available to Eldercare Consultants, it is not a requirement to be a consultant.
Q. Can you tell us how and why you became an Eldercare Consultant?
A. My path to becoming a consultant began with eleven years of caring for my late husband who had Huntington’s disease. Through that experience, I became acutely aware that we had to be our own advocates and experts on his care. I was thoroughly disappointed with the support and advice of the medical professionals handling his progressive situation. During the final four months of his life, his needs and behaviors became more than I could possibly manage at home and he had to be placed in a nursing home.
After his death, I realized how alone I had felt as a caregiver. At that point, I knew I wanted to take all that I had learned about the legal and insurance systems, healthcare, placement into a care community, and so much more, and put that knowledge into helping seniors and caregivers. So, I created two businesses with this mission in mind and began my journey as an Eldercare Consultant. This all culminated in the release of my multi-award winning book, The Eldercare Consultant.
Q. Under what circumstances do seniors and family members seek help from an Eldercare Consultant?
A. Most families reach out to me under two distinct circumstances:
• Family or friends have begun to notice changes/decline in a senior and are worried. They ask a consultant to come in and do an assessment of the situation and provide expert feedback on what they feel is needed. The consultant might work with a family for years providing resources and solutions as the senior’s needs change. This is usually a case where the senior is still living on their own at home and we attempting to keep them independent and healthy for as long as possible.
• Unfortunately, many families wait until a crisis happens and then they are overwhelmed with decisions that need to be made in a very short period of time and have no idea where to turn or what to do. For example, their loved has a severe stroke and cannot care for themselves any longer and the hospital will not release them unless they go directly to an assisted living community.
Q. What do you tell the family member clients?
A. One of the first things I tell my clients is that caring for a senior loved one is something they will be involved in maybe a couple of times in their life. Eldercare Consultants do it day in and day out. Caregivers cannot be expected to have the skill set and resources available to them that a professional would. One of the saddest things I deal with is a client who is beating himself or herself up because they don’t automatically know what to do in every circumstance they encounter as a caregiver!
Q. What Eldercare services / resources / programs do you offer (and which ones do you perform on behalf of) your eldercare families?
A. I have a wide range of services that are very fluid for families navigating the changing course of their loved one’s condition. These services include:
Evaluations and Counseling – Professional personalized assessments of your senior’s immediate and future needs, and outline potential options and guidance for a personal plan of action.
Mediation Services – Assisting families who members don’t always agree with the situation to come together and best serve their senior’s needs.
Community Research and Tours – If a possible placement into an assisted living community is in the future but not quite time…develop a list of suggested qualified and suitable communities and accompany client on a tour to educate them as to the differences in communities and understand what might be a good choice down the road.
Placement Services – When remaining at home is no longer and option:
1. I will conduct a care evaluation to determine care needs, budget, geographic and personal preferences.
2. I will research care facilities to identify which best meet the above criteria and discuss your options with you. It is our desire to provide you with as many options as possible, including price ranges, locations and amenities.
3. If desired, I will accompany you on a tour of the potential care facilities. ALL facilities are licensed by the State of Arizona and have been pre-screened. An advantage to having a consultant accompany you is to ensure that the correct questions are asked, that you understand the answers and that you don’t overlook anything.
4. Once the facility is selected, I can assist you in coordinating the move with the care facility and provide on-going support during the transition period.
Peace of Mind Program – A follow-up service to families that need an unbiased third party to visit their loved one in their own home or in a care community and report back on that person’s condition, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Senior Real Estate Services – When a family member moves, typically the home is the largest asset that needs to be liquidated. I will help you determine that best strategy for any real estate assets that belong to the family or family trust.
When selling real estate as part of court probate, there are special considerations that need to be evaluated and a legal process to be followed. Who is the personal representative? Which court is involved? Is there a will? Is the home furnished? What happens to the family heirlooms? And, so many more … my Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist is prepared to navigate through all of these situations.
Q. How long do you stay in contact with your eldercare clients and families?
A. I often work with my families for years. Currently, I have one gentleman who I’ve been assisting as his wife moves through all the stages of Alzheimer’s. I have been with this family for over seven years now and they consider me part of the family! Frankly, many of my past clients have become friends and we remain in contact long after their loved one has passed.
With that said, I would like to mention that when I do a placement into an assisted living community, I remain that family’s consultant and advocate, especially during the first few months as their loved one transitions into the community. There can be some particularly difficult adjustments in health, behaviors, emotions etc. during this time and it’s important I’m there to help them understand what is normal and what they should be concerned about.
Q. Can you tell us about your recent book “The Eldercare Consultant – Your Guide to Making the Best Choices Possible” and how it can be purchased?
A. This book truly came about as a result of my clients insisting that I write it to reach and help as many people as possible! With the book, I wanted to provide the knowledge, support, and encouragement that I had needed during my time as a caregiver.
The Eldercare Consultant weaves together real-life stories with the essential information needed to make the best decisions; this compassionate and practical guide helps you:
• Spot warning signs of physical and mental decline
• Recognize when a loved one needs assistance
• Determine the level of care needed
• Evaluate the options—family caregiver, home health care, palliative care, senior housing, assisted living facilities—and select the right one
• Discuss the issue with your loved one
• Understand and manage the costs of care
• Make the adjustment as smooth as possible
• Avoid caregiver burnout … and more
The book is available on Amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/Eldercare-Consultant-Making-Choices-Possible/dp/0814436315 or at Barnes & Noble.
Thank you, Becky, for your insights into “Connecting families with eldercare and assisted living resources”. We look forward to learning more from you in the coming months.
To reach Becky Feola for more information or to make an appointment, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org | office 480-419-4202 | cell 480-216-1607 and make sure to visit her website www.assistedlivingadvantage.com