EAST LONGMEADOW — For the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the numerous caregiving challenges faced across generations. The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP’s recently released Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 reveals an increase of 9.5 million in the number of family caregivers in the United States 2015 to 2020. As the aging population continues to rise, so does the demand for caregivers.
The Aging Life Care Association launched National Aging Life Care month 11 years ago to raise awareness of a solution for families and caregivers supporting aging loved ones. Aging Life Care is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults, dependent adults, and others facing ongoing health challenges. Aging life care managers, sometimes called geriatric care managers, are strategic planners with key knowledge in crisis intervention, housing, health and disability, advocacy, family legal needs, and financial and local resources.
“Aging life care managers collaborate with families and professionals to ensure the needs of vulnerable seniors are met and optimal quality of life is obtained,” said Maura Lessard, an aging life care manager herself. “We help navigate through the medical, financial, legal, and social challenges that are part of the aging journey.”
As Lessard, watched the pandemic separate families and isolate aging adults, she knew that her job as an aging life care manager was essential to the lives of her clients. “Families could not travel to check on their out-of-town loved ones; long-term care facilities shut their doors to the outside; and medical care became virtual,” she said. “Aging life care managers became essential workers and the lifeline to isolated, aging adults.”
Today, caregivers are facing more challenges, said Julie Wagner, Aging Life Care Association CEO. “With the ‘great resignation’ and the demands on unpaid family caregivers, we are seeing an increased demand for aging life care manager services and want families to know that help is available.”
The Aging Life Care Association hopes National Aging Life Care Month will not only increase awareness of the professional services available, but also bring more people into this growing profession. Aging life care managers come from a variety of backgrounds in the health and human services fields, including social work, nursing, gerontology, mental health, as well as occupational, physical, and recreational therapies. To access a national directory of professionals, visit aginglifecare.org.