Episode 008: Part 2: How do you find a GCM, what are some resources to help you care for an aging parent, animal pet therapy

Episode Description:

Host Zack Demopoulos continues his discussion with Wendy Sabin,  MSW, LCSW (check out Episode 007 for Part 1:  http://bit.ly/2sSpTIz) about how to hire a GCM (Geriatric Care Manager), resources they can help you with caring for your aging parents, Wendy’s dog Sophie who is training for pet animal therapy and how important this therapy.  Zack also does a review of the ALCA (Aging Life Care Association) as in its members and its purpose.   This show is dedicated to pet therapy animals—stick around until the end of the show to learn why.

Show Notes:

  • This is part 2 of a two part series. Please go back to Episode 007 for Part 1:  http://bit.ly/2sSpTIz   In this episode we continue to talk with Wendy Sabin, a GCM which is a Geriatric Care Manager about how to hire a GCM, resources they can help you with, Wendy’s dog Sophie and how important animal therapy can be.
  • Raising Rents is a show about everything you need to know in raising your parents or an aging adult. Thank you for taking the time to listen.  This show is dedicated to all the amazing pet therapy animals out there.   A pet therapy animal, most commonly a dog (but can be other species) has been obedience trained and screened for its ability to interact favorably with humans and other animals.  They are awesome. Stick around until the end of the show to find out why.
  • This show is made possible by the support of ComForCare…….ComForCare is a national home care provider and they truly help you live your best life possible.  (Click here to go to Zack & Phyllis ComForCare website)
  • A little clarification is needed–in Episode 7 we confused the acronym ALCA, which is the Aging Life Care Association, with the term Aging Life Care Advisor which really does not exist. The ALCA (Click here for ALCA website) is a non profit organization that contains Aging Life Care Professionals (not the term advisors) as their members.   According to their website, Aging life care, also known as geriatric care management, is a holistic client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges. Through education, advocacy, counseling, and service delivery, ALCA members assist older persons and their families in coping with the challenges of aging.  Only qualified individuals are allowed membership, that is professionals with specialized degrees and experience in human services, including social work, psychology, gerontology or nursing.   Their website is a very good resource that can help you find an ALCA expert in your area or close to where your aging parent or adult live.  It also has some great articles such as  How to Care for Aging Parents From a Distance  and 8 EASY WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF DEVELOPING DEMENTIA
  • Zack asks Wendy how do you find an ALCA expert?
  • Wendy (Click here to go to Wendy’s website) responds: You can do a search on the internet.  Put in “ALCA”.  Plug in zip code.  Find care manager.  Possible entire country.  20 – 25 names may pop up.  Go on their website.  Start making phone calls.  Tell them about the parent that needs help….she fell, I need to bring her home, etc.
  • What are the questions you should ask a GCM or ALCA professional candidate?
    • Where do you practice?
    • Are they familiar with the community? It’s like selecting a good therapist.
    • Can you carry on an easy conversation, talk with them?
    • Are they friendly, caring, patient, do they know what they are talking about?
    • Do they have 24/7 service and do you need that?
    • Do you need a nursing background or just social work background?
    • Look at testimonials on their website.
    • Look at their bio.
  • Zack asks: Okay you select a GCM.  Now what?  One of the challenges for a family caring for a loved one is coordinating resources, appointments, communication…… what’s the best way to work with a GCM?
  • Wendy responds: It’s a little bit about sharing.  Divide and conquer.  Like one person does the food shopping, one person connects with the aide, one person manages the doctor appointments, goes to the appointments.  There has to be a family member checking in on medication management, pill case organization, make sure prescriptions are in order, going to appointments or hiring an advocate.
  • There are some resources you may not even know about that you need to think about and they can help financially and logistically in caring for an aging parent, especially if you are a long distance adult kid: Need to have enough food in the home.  If you are long distance, use home delivery services like Fresh Direct or Peapod, and even Shoprite and grocery stores like that have home delivery systems. Financially some people think it is too much money but it really isn’t.  Effective for long distance caregiving.  Getting home care service covered by Medicare where they get a visiting nurse to come to home, a nurse practitioner to the home, home visiting physicians, physical therapy, all free and covered by Medicare.  Most people don’t know how to tap into these resources.  Another free resource is Veterans Benefit if they are veterans. Getting a financial plan in order.  Bill paying service.  Managing and coordinating that type of lifestyle while the person ages at home.  
  • So there are great resources out there to help you care for your parent whether you are long distance or not. And some are at no cost.  Zack goes back to one that Wendy mentioned…..Veterans Benefits.  If one of your parents is a veteran defined as any wartime veteran with 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during a period of war, is eligible to apply for the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension. A surviving spouse (marriage must have ended due to death of veteran) of a wartime veteran may also apply. The individual applying must qualify both medically and financially.  $1,788 per month to a veteran, $1,149 per month to a surviving spouse, or $2,120 per month to a couple.  It is like leaving money on the table if you qualify for this benefit.  Click here to visit the VA website for this benefit.
  • If hiring a GCM sounds like a great idea, Zack asks Wendy why many families do not utilize one besides not knowing about it.
  • Wendy responds: They hear it costs money and they cannot afford it.  Have to afford home care, costs a certain amount of money.  Have to have a plan.  Find home care, live in or hourly?  Fee for service and they may or may not want to pay that ongoing.  Maybe just pay couple of months.  If person is very infirmed and wants to live at home, usually having a care manager is not a high cost problem but more of a solution having an advocate especially when the adult kids are working.
  • Let’s repeat that last part…..”Especially when the adult kids are working”. Most of you listening are most likely working or busy raising children so add to that caring for your parents and it can get overwhelming.  Recall the 9 Beginner Steps to Raising Parents (you can find those on our website and listen to our first five episodes for a review of the 9 steps Raising ‘Rents 9 Beginer Steps To Raising Parents).  The number one step is Be good to yourself which is critical so you can do the other steps, and step 2 is be resourceful.  Whether you hire a GCM or not, it’s important to exercise both of these steps.
  • In Episode 7 http://bit.ly/2sSpTIz Wendy spoke about her dog Sophie who is an English Golden and how her friends make fun of her because she is a maniac about her dog but you can see why as Wendy shares with us how special she is.  Her dog comes to work with her.  Has been to over 25 nursing home visits and assisted living, people’s houses, father-in-laws nursing home, is going to become a certified pet therapy dog in the fall.
  • Zack asks what is involved to certify a pet for pet therapy? He mentions Phyllis and his pet dog Athena was a little too hyper.
  • Wendy: Training at St. Huberts academy in Madison   https://www.sthuberts.org/puppyandbasic/, dog classes in the first year of her life, now pet therapy classes, outdoor class, in the fall to be tested.  Test once but she was too young.  Creature Comforts in Morristown  http://www.ccpettherapy.org/.  Dog needs to be more mature, a little too hyper.  People friendly.  Little more calm.  Lap dog.  Big dog has to immediately answer to commands.  I will use that in my practice.
  • Wendy shares a story about the impact her dog has on herself and the people she visits at the Jewish Home of Rockleigh, a nursing home long term care facility where Sophie goes lap to lap to lap of women in wheelchairs who are very old and start sharing their own dog stories.
  • Wendy shares that Sophie brings a happy energy to her through her and to the people she is greeting. It’s like she is doing pet therapy to myself when visiting people.
  • Wendy concludes with last words of advice: Have a good plan in place. Check in with your parents financially, with legal plans, medical, social, mental health perspective, have a good plan and know what is ahead of you.  Consult with professionals alone behind their back if you have to so you know what to expect.  Do not wait until massive crisis.
  • Thank you for listening to Raising Rents!
  • If you like Raising ‘Rents, please go on iTunes and write us a review. View Raising ‘Rents in iTunes, click on Raitings and Reviews, click on “Write a Review”.   (Click here)
  • If you have questions, feedback, a story you want to share, or want to be a guest on the show, please contact Zack. (click here–contact page)

Links Referenced:


This show was dedicated to Pet Therapy Animals. According to the National Service Animal Registry (NSAR), there are 169,487  service and emotional support animals registered with NSAR as of 08/12/2017    The primary purpose of a therapy animal is to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with learning difficulties.  Wendy shares a little bit more about her desire with Sophie: She wants to bring Sophie like other therapy dogs to college campus for stress free week during exam time.  Therapy dogs also go see children, adults, hospitals.   If you are interested in training your pet for pet therapy, go to the NSAR website to learn more about it.


  • Raising ‘Rents Intro and Ending music by Arthaiz
  • Other music:  ” Acoustic Breeze”  by BENSOUND    http://www.bensound.com
  • BARK SOUNDING http://www.orangefreesounds.com/dog-woof-sound/
  • Daughter Anastasia Demopoulos does the opening voice over
  • Thank you to guest Wendy Sabin and her awesome dog Sophie
  • Website developed and managed by Philip Golden

Raising ‘Rents Podcast is made possible by the support of ComForCare, a national home care provider who truly helps you live your best life possible. (Visit website here)