Different stages of life bring new challenges and needs. Today more than ever, there are a wealth of professionals and service providers who are dedicated to helping seniors, their caregivers and families navigate the aging process.
While some services are better known, others are not, but are just as important to learn about. The following are some professionals and services you should know for yourself and as a spouse and/or caregiver; many are especially helpful for adult children who do not live near their aging family member(s).
AGING LIFE CARE MANAGER
As our lifespans have generally increased, many seniors and their families are tasked with the tough choice of whether to continue living at home or move into a residential care facility, such as an Assisted Living Facility. This decision becomes harder when adult children and other relatives do not live nearby the senior family member. An Aging Life Care Manager, who is frequently a registered nurse or licensed social worker, can help a family in this situation by suggesting services, making home visits, coordinating medical needs, evaluating living arrangement options and being an advocate for the individual. An Aging Life Care Manager may be even more beneficial if your loved one is facing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or another long term illness. Find an Aging Life Care Manager in your area through the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA).
THERAPIST/COUNSELOR FOR SENIORS
Seniors can suffer from depression, anxiety or other emotional distress due to the aging process. Therapists and Counselors who specialize in working with seniors can provide emotional support and bereavement counseling to individuals, couples and their families.
Teletherapy is an option if in-person counseling is not readily available. Due to the current health situation, many therapists and counselors are providing services online. Some of these services are covered under Medicare and supplemental insurance.
DAILY MONEY MANAGER
As we age, the task of general financial management becomes more burdensome. If a family member is not close by, hiring a daily money manager may be helpful. Daily money managers assist with paying bills, bank deposits, budgeting, organizing financial and tax documents, reviewing medical claims and bills, and opening and organizing mail. They are a good complement to a financial advisor and accountant when building your financial team. Find a Certified Daily Money Manager in your area through the American Association of Daily Money Managers (AADMM).
PROFESSIONAL FIDUCIARIES (AGENT, TRUSTEE, EXECUTOR, ETC.)
There are situations, such as family conflict, where it is in a person’s best interest to appoint a professional fiduciary. A fiduciary is legally obligated to act in their client’s best interests. Professional fiduciaries can act as a person’s Agent through a Financial or Medical Power of Attorney, a Trustee of a trust or as an Executor of an estate. If a person becomes incapacitated without proper estate planning documents, then a court may appoint a professional Guardian and/or Conservator. Contact your financial advisor or estate planning attorney to help you find a professional fiduciary.
SENIOR LIVING CONSULTANT
It can be overwhelming navigating senior living options, from in home assistance to assisted living to memory care. Senior living consultants are trained to help families find the best fit for the person, family and situation. They guide families through the initial search process, offer specific recommendations, schedule tours, help with paperwork, and can even be a source of support and companionship after a person has moved into a facility.
It is mentally and physically exhausting to care for a loved one, especially one who is physically and/or mentally incapacitated. Respite care is specifically designed to offer these caregivers a break, whether it is for a few hours, few days or longer. Respite services can provide care at a facility or in the home. The ARCH National Respite Locator Service can help you find services in your community.
ADULT DAY CARE
Similar to respite care, adult daycare offers a caregiver a break. Adult daycare is generally open five days a week during regular business hours, and some are open during evenings and weekends. These daycares generally serve three populations including seniors in general, seniors with medical care needs and those living with Alzheimer’s disease. Adult daycares work with other organizations geared towards seniors such as in home care and nursing facilities. Some adult daycares are nonprofit or utilize government funding which means qualified individuals may receive adult day care services for free or at a reduced rate.
Palliative care is different from hospice care, as it is available to a person with a serious illness, terminal or not, of any age. The goal is to offer relief from the illness and increase the quality of life for the individual and family. Palliative care is meant to be holistic and often includes not only medical support, but physical, emotional, social and spiritual assistance as well.
PROFESSIONAL MOVE/ORGANIZING MANAGERS
Professional Organizing & De-Cluttering Services, Senior Move Managers and Senior Real Estate Specialists provide seniors and their families organizing, downsizing and moving support, especially when there is no family living nearby.
The task of decluttering and organizing one’s home is often physically and emotionally overwhelming and often the response is to do nothing. The results can be catastrophic if there is a sudden illness or death and the home must be vacated and sold. This causes undue burden and pressure on family members to handle the situation. Hiring a professional organizer and decluttering service when you are still healthy is the best way to ensure your prized possessions stay with you and your family members are not forced to make decisions that you may not want. These professionals can help you rearrange your home to suit your current lifestyle, organize paperwork, and get rid of physical belongings you don’t want or need anymore.
In conjunction with a professional organizer, a Senior Move Manager is trained to develop a plan for either moving or remaining at the home. Services may include organizing belongings, coordinating movers, and finding a suitable realtor who is specifically trained and experienced with helping older people buy and sell real estate. Senior Move Managers offer a variety of services and their fees are based on which services are chosen. Some charge hourly while others charge one fee for an entire job. Learn more about Senior Move Managers through the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). You can find a Senior Real Estate Specialist thought the National Association of Realtors.
This list of senior services is not exhaustive. There are many other important senior services such as in-home services, transportation, shopping and companionship. Your local Agency on Aging has information on local services and benefits available to seniors and their families. The goal is to build a professional team that will work together with you and your family members to support you as you age.
As a financial advisor, my services are most impactful when I can be proactive versus reactive. This is also true for many of the professionals that help seniors. Unfortunately, many people only find out about these resources after a tragic event or death. Take the time now to research and learn about these services. You never know when you or your family members may need help.