Geriatric Care Management in Wilmington, NC
If you have heard of Geriatric Care Managers or Aging Life Care Professionals, but are not real sure what exactly they do, you are not alone. The titles can feel rather vague and what these professionals do can, in reality, cover a fairly broad range of services.
Aginglifecare.org defines Aging Life Care as “a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges.” The site goes on to further explain that Aging Life Care Professionals provide guidance that “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.”
I recently sat down with Andrew Zeldin, owner of Assistance for Life Care Management, and his wife, Nikki, to help turn that definition into real-life scenarios.
Who Might Use an Aging Life Care Professional?
When asked to describe some common reasons a person may benefit from geriatric care management, Andrew said he sees a lot of people who moved here to retire but have no family here. This can cause a number of different challenges, especially for retirees with no plan in place should the need arise for an extra level of care. The Zeldins shared a number of real-life examples. Clients or their family members may contact an Aging Life Care Professional if they’ve decided to downsize from their home and want to know their options. Maybe they are not in a position to visit potential facilities. An Aging Life Care Professional can visit the facilities that seem to be the best fit for the client’s desires and provide an objective report to help them make a decision on where they would like to live. Clients have also contacted Assistance for Life Care Management when they wanted to stay in their own home, but their family members did not feel that remaining at home was a safe decision for them. Andrew was able to assess these situations and educate the family members on options and resources that could make remaining at home a safe and valid option. An Aging Life Care Professional can also assist with medical management, attending appointments to facilitate communication among professionals or with family as requested. This can be a great help when a recent diagnosis makes the amount of new medical information and necessary decisions and options overwhelming and/or when Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia is present making it difficult to retain or understand the information shared in medical appointments.
Ideally, an Aging Life Care Professional would work with a family before an event or crisis occurs so he or she can help them create a plan and get connected to the resources needed for both current and potential needs. In reality, many families do not contact an Aging Life Care Professional until after some injury or diagnosis occurs, leading to a crisis. Andrew shared his hope that families and the professionals who work with them could see the benefit of paying “on the front end to make their future easier.”
What Does the Process Look Like?
- A free initial consultation.
With Assistance for Life Care Management, the first step is generally a free initial consultation. This gives the family an opportunity to learn what a full assessment could provide for them as well as some possible resources available based on their needs.
- A comprehensive assessment.
The next step which begins with a full assessment of the client’s needs and objectives. The client then receives a report which includes the resulting recommendations, a list of resources, and education on options. While Andrew admitted he is a huge proponent of helping clients stay at home, he also went on to emphasize, “IF that is what they want.” He sees his role as that of an “objective surrogate son” who wants to help families safely meet their objectives. When a client wants to stay at home, Andrew will educate the client (and family members) on options for remaining safe at home. If a need for assistance with finances, record-keeping, or legal documents is unveiled, Andrew can recommend the appropriate resources. When clients are in a facility without any family to visit, Andrew can check in on them, give updates to the family, and be an advocate for them. Assistance for Life is sometime contacted to evaluate a plan that is being made for a senior if there is a question about it being in their best interest. One example is when an out-of-town or out-of-state adult child wants to move a parent to live with him or her, but may not have a full understanding of the parent’s current condition and needs. In such a case, a comprehensive assessment can provide a realistic report of what care the client will require as well as how a move might affect the client.
- Follow-Up As Requested
Following the comprehensive assessment, families may choose continued follow-up on a regular basis or may elect to just request follow-up as additional needs arise. Andrew described the benefit of regular follow-up as helping to identify issues before they turn into crises. This could entail regular planned visits to assess that the level of care is sufficient and/or to communicate to family members who live out-of-state how their loved one is doing and keep them apprised of any progress, decline, needs or concerns. He described one situation where a client was especially vulnerable to being taken advantage of financially. His regular visits helped protect her from those who were trying to con her out of savings needed for her long-term-care plan.
Why the Zeldins Started Assistance for Life Care Management
Andrew’s interest in gerontology came from watching his mother take on the primary care role for his grandmother following his grandfather’s death. As a teenager, he was able to witness the challenges involved in caring for an aging loved one as well as the rich experience of being able to keep his grandmother in a home environment with family. This experience inspired him to earn his Master’s Degree in Gerontology from UNCW and continues to inspire him as he works with families in our community. He describes his work as doing what he can to make sure his clients and their families live life to the fullest.
Nikki brings a different background to the business as an international adoption coordinator of ten years. She shared how this work gave her great experience in family dynamics, seeing families through a process that could be overwhelming, and helping families deal with difficult and disappointing news. She shares Andrew’s commitment to be a support to families as they navigate through circumstances that can be emotionally intense.
While spending time with the Zeldins, one thing I was struck by was how their passion for helping people was paired with a calm demeanor. Many times, our clients (and I am sure theirs) come when events have made life rather chaotic. It has been our goal to provide services in such a way that we bring an element of calm and peace to the chaos. It was apparent that the Zeldins share that desire to bring calm to a situation that has already become chaotic due to circumstances, or ideally, prevent the chaos in the first place.
Find a Geriatric Care Manager or Aging Life Care Professional in your area?
If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Wilmington, NC, call Griswold Home Care
and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (910) 363-2866