What is a Senior Care Advocate?
A Senior Care Advocate assists seniors and their families with concerns regarding matters of health, housing and other issues of aging. Whether a professional or a family member becomes an advocate, the goal is to keep the best interests of the elderly person in clear focus.
Senior care advocacy covers a broad range of services, such as assisting seniors to apply for government benefits, such as Medicaid and Social Security disability, reviewing medical bills and insurance claims, and providing support after a hospital stay.Becoming a senior care advocate does not require a license or certification, nor is there a specific education level.
However, senior care advocates must be knowledgeable regarding the needs of seniors in the areas of healthcare, financial assistance, and resources for day-to-day living.
It is not unusual for someone in the family to act as an advocate for an older family member. Often a parent, grandparent or other older loved one becomes too ill to manage things on his own. When a family member steps in and takes over the care of the senior, he is acting as the care advocate for his loved one.
The responsibility of acting as the care advocate for a senior family member is far greater than simply taking him to a doctor’s appointment or picking up a filled prescription from the pharmacy. The role of the care advocate entails making sure that everything regarding the senior’s medical care is taken care of correctly.
Some of the responsibilities of a Senior Care Advocate include:
- Assistance with Medicare, Medicaid and supplemental insurance coverage, limitations, and benefits
- Visits to doctors, tests, and procedures
- Making sure prescriptions are taken correctly
- Making sure that all information is correct if a hospital visit occurs
- Ensuring an Advanced Health Care Directive ( Power of Attorney and a Living Will (is in place
For the family member that takes on the responsibility of acting as the loved one’s care advocate, the job can be exhausting, especially if he is caught in the sandwich generation. The term sandwich generation refers to people who find themselves in the middle of working, having children of their own at home or in college and caring for an aging ill parent or relative all at the same time.
If the responsibility of caregiver or advocate becomes overwhelming, sharing the responsibilities with another family member or engaging the services of a professional care advocate for seniors is often the best solution for everyone. It is also generally the best solution when close family members do not live near the senior who needs assistance.
What is a Senior Locator?
Senior locators assist families who are considering options for assisted living, independent living, nursing home care and memory care primarily. They can also assist with home care options, such as home health and non-medical in-home care, as well.
Depending on where you live, there are most likely hundreds—if not thousands—of options for senior housing and care. Sorting through all the possibilities, determining the level of medical care you or your loved one needs, and figuring out costs can all be daunting tasks. Fortunately, there are senior housing and care locator services that can guide you through the process.
Locator services cooperate closely with a wide variety of senior living facilities and care providers. Typically, these include:
- Independent living facilities
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing homes
- Memory care facilities, including Alzheimer’s and dementia care
- Continuing care retirement communities
- In-home care providers
- Respite services
- Personal care homes
- Hospice care providers
These services help residents narrow down their options by consulting with them to determine the level of medical care needed, personal living preferences, and financial status.
From there, they make phone calls, evaluate the facilities’ records and medical capabilities, and organize tours to help clients narrow down their list even further and ultimately choose the best facility for them.
How do senior locator services work?
Every company is different and will have a different process. However, typically, an employee will conduct an initial interview to determine the following factors:
- The client’s medical issues, concerns, and projected needs.
- The client’s social and quality-of-life preferences.
- A wish list of amenities and other property features.
- The client’s geographic preferences.
- The client’s financial status, assets, and budget.
From there, the company will communicate with their network of senior living facilities, home care organizations, and other connections to narrow down a list of choices. Their employees will assess the facilities’ abilities to meet the client’s medical needs, and determine whether the facilities are financially within reach. There may be more than one meeting required, and the client may have to travel to the organization’s office; some organizations will also do in-home visits and phone calls.
After this initial evaluative period, the client will have the opportunity to tour the facilities that have been chosen as the best fit. Once the client chooses a community, the senior care locator will give it a final evaluation to ensure that it has the capability to provide the medical services required.
Do locator services charge a fee?
Some senior care and housing locator services do charge a fee, usually on an hourly basis. Many don’t charge the clients, however; they are paid through the residential facilities or care providers directly. The purpose of locators is to help seniors (and family members) transition from their homes to the community that’s right for them as seamlessly as possible; find the best option available for hospice or in-home care, and understand the differences between the many types of care available. If you are struggling to sort through residency and care options for yourself or a loved one, using a senior housing or care locator service is an excellent option.