"Are you a nurse?"
I'm asked that question from time to time. My answer:
"If I were a nurse, all the patients would die the next day."
I have a fair amount of medical knowledge, most of it acquired through osmosis by working in a nursing home for 12 years with seniors and their families. But I'm not a nurse. I have great respect for nurses, though, and I work alongside of them as our company Silver Age Referrals helps families find assisted living and adult family homes for their loved ones.
I'm not an elderlaw attorney, either, yet I refer people to those experts in the law on subjects including Medicaid. Neither am I a physical or occupational therapist, yet I know how valuable these professionals are to what Washington law calls "vulnerable adults."
From the organizers/planners, to the Realtors specializing in working with seniors, to the Geriatric Care Managers who oversee the care of elders on behalf of families, professionals helping seniors run the gamut.
In the best of worlds, we work together, pooling our skills and expertise to benefits seniors.
If my client needs help I can't provide, I refer to a professional. But how do I know that this person will have, in addition to knowledge and expertise, the ethics needed to work with "vulnerable adults" and their families?
One helpful factor is the CSA alongside the professional's name. That stands for Certified Senior Advisor. It means membership in a national organization called the Society of Certified Senior Advisors.
Members study and pass a test on a broad-based curriculum that includes senior-related topics including: Trends in Aging, Physiological Changes in Aging, Mental Health, Grief and Loss, Caregivers and Caregiving, Chronic Illness, Cognitive, Aging, End of Life Planning, etc. There are also segments on Estate Planning, Financial Choices, Long-term Care Coverage, etc.
The organization requires continuing education, as well. One of the most important aspects of the Society is its strong emphasis on ethics. If members get into trouble ethically, there's a process which can lead to censorship or ousting from the organization.
I'm delighted when I can refer to a professional who is a CSA. Not because they're perfect, but because they know how to treat seniors and their families ethically. They know how to do the right thing.