May is Aging Life Care Month, a time to celebrate the invaluable services provided by Aging Life Care Managers, like our very own Heather Reilly. As a Care Manager, Heather assists aging individuals and their families in navigating the challenges associated with aging. This month, we shine a spotlight on Heather’s expertise and experience, highlighting what it means to be an Aging Life Care Manager. Her story serves as a reminder of the critical role that Aging Life Care Managers play in ensuring the health and well-being of aging adults.
When one of my friends, who had consulted with a care manager for her mother’s care needs, told me about the field of care management, I was intrigued. I didn’t know such a field existed and I googled for a local care manager who agreed to meet with me to discuss the field. It interested me because I knew that I wanted to work with older people, and I wanted it to be very meaningful. I also wanted it to reach beyond social work in a hospital or long-term setting. I have been working in the field since 2014.
Working in a field that is so rewarding comes from two things: 1) creativity to think expansively and often out-of-the-box, and 2) the intimacy we experience with the people we work with (both clients and their families) as we develop relationships and partner with them as we navigate care challenges.
If I could stress the most important thing for families, it would be that you should plan ahead for future needs. Find a care manager, know what your options are, have the tough care discussions. When you know who you can trust before it is an emergency, it is one less thing to worry about during a crisis when it can even feel like it is “too late.” The goal of a care manager is to enrich the quality of life for the aging person and to support involved family members. Knowing you can call your care manager at any point in time is a comfort. There have been many situations where the talking and planning in advance have allowed the aging person to articulate and direct their own care longer.
Even with the challenges that we face, there are also light-hearted times. I remember one time when I went to visit a client who was receiving hospice services. She was often delusional through the process and when I showed up, she was watching an episode of Love Boat. She immediately said she was so happy that she and I ended up on the same boat. She would then alternate between watching TV and turning to talk to me as if we were both passengers on the cruise ship. She said she was delighted to have “the company during the passage.”
My days are very busy and constantly changing. Clients needs change on a regular basis. What is happening today can be completely different tomorrow, so our work has to focus on serving their unique needs and watching for changes that needed to be monitored and supported. If you find yourself looking to start the process with a care manager, please give us a call at 610-667-2838 or email us at CareManagement@waverlyheights.org.