What Does an Aging Life Care Specialist Do? (Part 1)
What is an Aging Life Care Specialist?
According to the Aging Life Care Association (formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers), an Aging Life Care Specialist is defined as “a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older relatives.”
The Aging Life Care Specialist assists older adults and persons with disabilities in attaining their maximum functional potential. In addition, the Aging Life Care Specialist is an experienced guide and resource for families of older adults and others with chronic needs, including helping those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinsons or exhibiting symptoms of dementia.”
Who are Aging Life Care Specialists?
Aging Life Care Specialists come from several fields, such as nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care.
Aging Life Care Specialists who are members of the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) are committed to adhering to the ALCA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. This information can be viewed at Aging Life Care.
When Would I Need an Aging Life Care Specialist?
Aging Life Care Specialists are often called upon in times of caregiving crises, but when a caregiver or the family is feeling overwhelmed or unsure of what steps to take next, an Aging Life Care Specialist can be a professional to call upon for an assessment or consultation to help evaluate the situation and provide recommendations. As in any complex situation, it is better to have a plan going in, so bringing a specialist onboard as part of your caregiving team in the earlier stages is a smart step. It gives everyone an opportunity to know each other without the burden of a crisis. It gives the specialist a chance to know the older adult closer to his or her baseline. Most importantly, having a specialist to put their eyes and ears on the situation can help improve the current living situation and quality of life, i.e., identifying fall risks in the home, identifying community resources to improve socialization, identify caregivers, locating transportation options, etc.
Part 2 of this article is available here.
Kathleen S. Allen, LCSW, C-ASWCM, is an Aging Life Care Specialist in Northern Virginia. She works with seniors and their families, and with organizations and their employees or members to help guide them through the challenges of aging and caregiving.
This article was updated on Aug 30, 2015.