How to Become a Senior Care ConsultantHow to Become a Senior Care ConsultantHow to Become a Senior Care Consultant
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A retired couple is ready to sell their home and move into a retirement community. They want to make sure they’re getting the most value and best services for what they can afford. They also want to make sure they move to a community where they are surrounded by plenty of people their own age. And they would like to retire in a place that will accommodate their medical needs as they increase over the years. In addition to all this, because their children have moved away, they could use some help with the medical care decisions they may have to make.
Where does this couple go for assistance and guidance regarding all their desires? They turn to a senior care consultant, an expert who makes sure they find the retirement community that best fits their unique needs.
America is growing older, with the baby boomer generation entering retirement and improvements to healthcare lengthening lifespans. In fact, the Population Reference Bureau projects the number of American senior citizens will reach 100 million by 2060. In 2030, the number of senior citizens will outnumber the number of individuals under the age of 18, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
More senior citizens will find themselves needing healthcare in the years to come, and they will turn to senior care consultants to help them access that care.
What Does a Senior Care Consultant Do?
Senior care consultants — also known as geriatric care consultants, aging life care managers, or geriatric care managers — are experts in eldercare. They help clients find the right services and options throughout the aging process. Senior care consultants do not provide direct healthcare for their clients but instead, serve as facilitators to make sure their patients are receiving the best care possible. They accomplish this by drawing on their intimate knowledge of the healthcare system while taking into account the specific medical needs of older adults.
Senior care consultants are certified professionals who help their patients navigate issues such as finding a nursing home or assisted living community, setting a budget for care, and choosing the best healthcare provider for their situation. They work with individual clients as well as entire families and demonstrate patience and compassion throughout the process.
Steps to Become a Senior Care Consultant
The path to becoming a certified senior care consultant includes higher education in the senior healthcare system, both classroom and real-world experience, and certification. A detailed discussion of these steps follows.
Find the Right Degree Program
Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in healthcare management with a certificate in senior living management can help prepare graduates for a career as a senior care consultant. Students take courses on the overall healthcare system, such as healthcare operations and financial management in healthcare, while also taking senior-specific courses like an introduction to gerontology, and long term care laws and regulations. The degree program highlights specific issues that seniors face and helps equip graduates with the tools to help generations of senior citizens navigate the complex American healthcare system.
Gain Real-World Experience
To perform well, aspiring senior care consultants must first gain experience not just in the classroom, but in the workplace. During undergraduate study, many individuals find opportunities to complete internships or shadow experienced professionals who are already working in the field. Alternatively, many step into entry-level jobs after graduating that help them gain practical experience. Applying concepts learned in the classroom to real-world scenarios is vital to success, and it’s often necessary to earn a certification.
Certification may not be required to become a senior care consultant, but it may be desirable; consider your options carefully when choosing whether to pursue certification. The National Association of Certified Care Managers offers four different paths toward earning the required Care Manager Certification (CMC). Only after satisfying one of these options are individuals able to take the examination.
Option A: Earn an advanced degree (e.g., a master’s or PhD) in a related field, plus gain a year of paid, full-time care management experience with 50 hours of supervision.
Option B: Graduate with a bachelor’s degree in a related field, or any bachelor’s/master’s/PhD degree in an unrelated field, along with a university-based care management certificate. Additionally, complete two years of paid, full-time care management experience with 50 hours of supervision each year.
Option C: Earn an associate degree in a related field, or an RN license Additionally, gain two years of paid, full-time care management experience with 50 hours of supervision each year, as well as one year of paid, full-time direct experience with clients in a field such as social services, nursing, or mental health/counseling.
Option D: Earn any degree in an unrelated field, as well as three years of paid, full-time care management experience with 50 hours of supervision each year. Finally, complete one year of paid, full-time direct experience with clients in a field such as social services, nursing, mental health, or counseling.
Senior Care Consultant Salary
Because of the wealth of experience and education required to become a senior care consultant, the compensation is competitive. PayScale.com reports the average salary for geriatric care managers is $50,226 per year and notes that the top 10% earn more than $80,000 per year. Factors that can influence senior care consultant salary include location, workplace setting, experience, and education level.
Employment Outlook for Senior Care Consultants
Some senior care consultants are self-employed, while others work within a team of consultants. Some senior care consultant groups have even formed large companies that provide services in a number of states. According to the Journal of Aging Life Care, more than 80% of geriatric care managers are part of independent practices, while 17% are employees of corporate entities, nonprofit agencies, or hospital groups. The job market for senior care consultants is expected to grow due to demographic changes and the increasing number of senior citizens.
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