By Jennifer Gibbons, LCSW, Coordinator of Onsite Services
Does it seem like everyone’s an expert on something nowadays? There can be so many letters after someone’s name that the reader has no idea what they mean. It’s difficult to determine what qualifies someone as an expert. Does she have a master’s degree or a certification? Perhaps his expert opinions are shaped by personal experience or many years of exposure in the field. Sometimes it’s a combination of all of these.
Regardless, when it comes to senior care, consulting with a specialist is often necessary as recommendations from your friend may not match your mother’s unique care needs. In the world of senior care, there are plenty of designations, but not all are created equal. One way to weed through the alphabet soup of degrees, licenses, and certifications is to look for reputable affiliations that adhere to certain professional standards and credentialing processes. Here’s a list of some to pursue:
- ALCAAging Life Care Association
Aging Life Care Professionals, formerly known as geriatric care managers, are specialists that guide and advocate for families who are caring for older relatives or disabled adults. These specialists are typically nurses and social workers who meet specific criteria to be a member of this group.
- NASWNational Association of Social Workers
NASW is a professional organization for those who studied social work. Many social workers have licensing credentials but their requirements and titles vary by state. Examples include: LBSW (Licensed Bachelor Social Worker), LSW (Licensed Social Worker), LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker), LCSW (Licensed Certified Social Worker or Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker).
- NAHCNational Association for Home Care and Hospice
NAHC is a professional organization for those working with issues related to chronic illness, disability and end-of-life. It allows for a variety of membership types, including agency or independent service providers, businesses, associations, and non-profit groups.
- NAELANational Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
NAELA is a professional organization for those providing legal advocacy, guidance, and services to aging individuals and those with special needs. Members commit to the highest standards of ethics in working with the elderly.
- CELACertified Elder Law Attorney
Attorneys with the CELA designation have enhanced knowledge, skills, experience, and proficiency in elder law. To achieve this certification, an attorney must pass a specialized examination and participate in 45 hours of continuing legal education.
- CNA Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistants help with hands-on care of elders, such as bathing, dressing, and assistance with minor medical procedures.
- LPN Licensed Practical Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurses administer medication, take vital signs, document patient information, and provide hands-on care to patients. They work under the direction of a registered nurse or doctor.
- RNRegistered Nurse
Registered nurses provide and coordinate patient care in a wide variety of settings. RNs typically have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing, and are licensed by the state after successful completion of a standardized examination.
- NPNurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners diagnose illnesses, treat injuries and infections, and prescribe medications. They also order diagnostic tests.
When you’re confronted with the alphabet soup of senior care, contact a care advisor at Care.com who can offer appropriate resources and practical guidance. All Care Advisers at Care.com are masters-level social workers specializing in adult and senior care. Call us today at (855) 781-1303 and we’ll be happy to support you along your senior care journey.