Last Updated on February 28, 2022
I received the question, “What does an elder care consultant do?” last week, and thought it would be a great question to answer. I frequently recommend an elder care consultant, often known as a senior care consultant, to families with aging parents.
Elder care consultants, or senior care consultants, can fill a variety of roles: dementia education, legal considerations, caregiver support, exploring living options, identifying resources, family communication, level of care assessments, and more.
I like to think of an elder care consultant as the person you turn to during a difficult aging situation when you aren’t sure who to speak with or where to turn.
Most people only experience one or two aging situations in their lifetime. Knowing what is normal, which resources are available, and how to handle a challenging diagnosis can feel like an endless maze with little support.
Elder care consultants fill the support role – not only for caregivers, but for your loved one, too.
I’ll talk about what elder care consultants do, how much they charge, and how to find your own elder care consultant.
What Do Elder Care Consultants Do?
What can’t elder care consultants do?
I’m joking. Sort of.
I’m a big fan of elder care consultants.
Elder care consultants can do a ton, particularly when you are feeling at a loss of what to do next.
Was your loved one diagnosed with an illness like dementia and you aren’t sure what sort of care they will need in the future?
Elder care consultants can help.
Is your loved one being stubborn and not aware of their own limitations as they age?
Elder care consultants can help with that conversation.
Do you feel like your loved one is not safe at home anymore?
You guessed it – elder care consultants can help educate you about the living options available, which are better as they age for their specific diagnosis, and give you behind the scenes information to make a more informed decision.
I’ve come to look at elder care consultants as individuals who can help with nearly anything having to do with aging.
They can help families navigate difficult transitions, create aging plans, listen to worries, give guidance about living situations, provide care management, and relieve caregiver stress.
They can provide advice in a limited capacity, or you can consult them on an ongoing basis as needed. You can reach out in advance of needing help or in emergencies.
Many elder care consultants are licensed social workers, registered nurses, licensed mental health counselors, geriatric mental health specialists, certified case managers, and certified care managers.
Below is a list of possible tasks an elder care consultant could help with:
- Hospital discharge plan
- Educating about caregiving resources
- Hiring caregivers
- Caregiver education and support
- Memory assessments
- Educate and help explore different living options (care at home, assisted living, memory care, adult family home, etc.)
- Facilitating family conversations
- Financial and legal considerations
- Health assessments (home safety, psychological needs, medical needs)
- Medication management
Each business is different in what they offer, but this is a list of tasks that they can commonly help with or point you in the direction of someone who can help.
Elder care consultants can’t do everything and often don’t provide actual care, but they can talk with you to get a sense of what you need, provide recommendations, and create a plan of care going forward.
Personally, I’ve found the greatest value in their ability to listen, address what you need urgently, and anticipate what you may need down the road to help relieve stress.
How Much Do Elder Care Consultants Charge?
Elder care consultants usually charge between $75 and $200 an hour. An initial assessment may cost a few hundred dollars or more.
These charges are usually paid out of pocket because insurance does not typically cover them. If you have long-term care insurance, it may cover an initial assessment or other time with an elder care consultant, but it is typically limited.
Although it can seem expensive, one or two sessions with an elder care consultant may save significant money, time, and headaches later.
If you can get the right care in place, medication managed, or your loved one transitioned to a good living situation, you may save yourself from a costly mistake or a family feud later.
Plus, what is your time worth?
Although anybody can do the research online, how much time will that take? How do you know the quality of a caregiver or living facility is good? What if there is planning that should be done now that you don’t uncover in your research?
I see incredible value in elder care consultants. Think of the charge as peace of mind. They won’t solve every issue, but they can often help you avoid or navigate through many problems.
How to Find an Elder Care Consultant
Unfortunately, finding an elder care consultant is not an easy process.
There is no central database to specifically find elder care consultants and many companies do not have reviews.
There is an eldercare locator that connects people with local support resources, but it is more of a resource to point you in the direction of a wide variety of resources. Those resources could then point you in the direction of other resources. In a way, it’s probably two or three steps removed from finding the resources you may want.
It’s a good place to start, but I would also do an old fashioned internet search in your area by typing “elder care consultant _____________” (and insert the name of your city in the blank) to find elder care consultants in your area.
The other option is to ask other people you know, even if they are not in your community, about resources they used with an aging or sick parent.
Even if you only know someone as an acquaintance, ask if they have used an elder care consultant or other resources. Most people who have gone through an aging health event are happy to share what worked well and what didn’t.
You could even send a blast email to your friends and family asking them if they know anybody who has gone through a similar experience and would be willing to put you in touch. Even if your family and friends haven’t been through an aging experience, they may know someone who has.
I’m also happy to share an elder care consultant I’ve worked with who was kind, patient, and relieved a ton of stress. Her name is Laura Vaillancourt. In addition to her elder care consulting business, she also has a podcast called Life on Repeat: A Dementia Caregiver Podcast. She also has great resources on her Facebook page.
She works virtually across the United States and provides counseling to Washington state residents. Although she may not know your local area’s housing options and other resources (unless you are located in the Washington state area), I could see her helping educate about a diagnosis, financial concerns, where to look for resources, and creating a plan of care.
Although I haven’t worked with them directly, Aging Wisdom also has been recommended to me by someone I trust, and I’ve had a different person I know have a good experience with them. They are located in the Seattle area.
Even if you don’t work with them, they have resources that may help or get you to the right place.
When you do a search, sometimes people will call themselves elder care consultants, but they may only place people into living facilities, such as assisted living or nursing homes. I don’t consider these people to be elder care consultants. Elder care consultants can help with a wide variety of issues – not just housing placement.
These people are often paid by which communities they recommend. It’s something to be aware of because it may influence their advice.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but something to be aware of because you may decide to go with the services that are “free”, but in reality, nothing is free. If you are not paying for something, they usually are making money off of you another way. In this case, it’s through which communities they recommend. Some communities may offer more money than others, influencing their advice.
I’m not saying don’t go with the free advice, but from my experience, paying to consult with an experienced elder care consultant where I am the primary way they get paid usually leads to better advice.
Unlike many other services where you can count on reviews and other tools to research, elder care consultants are harder to find. I recommend starting with friends and family because they normally will have strong opinions about their experiences if they have talked with an elder care consultant.
If they don’t have recommendations, I’ve named two above, but I also recommend searching the internet for ones in your local area, reading any reviews they may have, and scheduling a call with them to learn more. Don’t forget to be wary of any that are “free.”
Final Thoughts – My Question for You
Elder care consultants can be invaluable when it comes to a crisis situation during a major health event or even designing a plan for when something does happen.
Elder care consultants can help you find the right resources, hire caregivers, give memory assessments, explore different living situations, and more than anything, be a guide on your aging journey.
They are someone who is in your corner to make sure you have what you need to navigate a difficult situation that you may only experience once or twice in life.
Although elder care consultants are not inexpensive, I’ve personally found them to be a great value. Not only do they save time, but they can help put you on the right path from the start and help you as life changes.
Start with your friends and family to see if they have recommendations. If they don’t, you may need to connect with your local community resources or do a search online.
I’ll leave you with one question to act on.
If you need to find an elder care consultant, which friends or family would you ask for recommendations?