Raising ‘Rents Episode 007: Part 1: What is a ‘GCM’ and an ‘ALCA’ and why you may need one.

Episode Description:

Host Zack Demopoulos invites Wendy Sabin,  MSW, LCSW to talk about what a GCM or Geriatric Care Manager is, the name change from GCM to ALCA or Aging Life Care Adviser, why you would call one, what they do for you, and how she balances her professional care giving and personal care giving which you may be surprised by her answer.  She also answers a listener’s question on how to handle an aging parent who is reluctant to move out of state to be near an adult child who can care for them.

Show Notes:

  • Wendy Sabin shares all the hats she wears which include caregiver both professionally and personally, mother, wife, cares for her mother who has Parkinsons, supports her father who is her mother’s caregiver, supports husband’s parents whose mother just had minor surgery and his father is in a nursing home for last two years. She says that it never stops and she makes every effort on weekends to do rest, relax, and have some respite.  She does that by participating in fitness, dog walking.  She says if she will get lethargic, take part in unhealthy eating, have low energy if she does not pay attention to self care and that would result in being ineffective or unproductive.
  • Zack shares that Wendy’s issues may be common for a caregiver, but what is uncommon is that she is also a Geriatric Care Manager (or GCM) or now called an Aging Life Care Advisor (or an ALCA) and has helped many families with similar issues. In this episode we will talk about what is a GCM and an ALCA?  And how does Wendy go about balancing helping others and her own family.  You’ll be surprised with the answer.  We’ll cover that and much more in this 2 part series.
  • Stick around until the end of this episode when we also answer a listener’s question, a question that you may very well be asking. It’s about a parent who is reluctant to move out of state so one of their kids can take care of them.
  • 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)
  • Wendy has a lot of experience personally and professionally as a caregiver and working with caregivers. She has run caregiver support groups. Worked in senior communities.  She now has her own practice and a part time care manager works for her.  (Click here to go to Wendy’s website).    I’ve know her for over six years working in the elder care environment.  I know her well and also know that we are both big dog lovers.  More about Wendy’s dog Sophie in part 2 Episode 8.
  • Wendy talks about how she and her husband in their 50’s decided to move to a place where they can “age young in place as well as age in place” before issues begin.
  • Zack’s view is that there are not many people who would do what Wendy do. He asks how does she have this ancillary insight, is it her experience as a GCM, and what is a GCM?
  • Wendy talks about how she as an aging life care advisor, or GCM helping people as a healthcare navigator through stages of aging. Talks about the ALCA organization that is a new term but has GCM’s as its members.  (Click here for ALCA website).  Wendy focuses on the geriatric community.  Zack shares information about the ALCA website.   The ALCA   felt in 2012 that the term “care manager” and even “geriatric care manager” no longer adequately communicated the profession as practiced by its members.  Although their profession has been around for 30 years, the term  “care managers” has been appropriated by any number of service providers.  The association feels there is simply no other profession or practitioner doing what their members do which is the profession of Aging Life Care!  But what does that look like? He asked Wendy how does someone find her and why does someone feel they need her services?
  • Wendy said you can find professionals like her on the internet, word of mouth, networking. She usually gets calls when someone is in a crisis. They don’t know what she does but knows she can help them.  She shares they can make mistakes, let’s talk about next steps, stop struggling, have a plan.  A care plan.  She sees mental health and caregiver burn out; distress, depression, weight issues, self neglect.  Their lives are unraveling. Trying to overmanage. Not the right aides, facility, financial plan.
  • Wendy says she does the same thing for her clients she does for her family. She says she hired a care manager for her parents and her inlaws.
  • Zack was surprised that someone who is a GCM goes out and hires one.
  • Wendy tells the story of what triggered this need–a bad situation over a weekend with her family not going well. Her mom actually fell that weekend.  She went to her dad and told him she can’t do this anymore.  Got a little emotional.
  • Zack shares that this can be exhausting with the family, with siblings.
  • Wendy continues with story, says it was too much, the role reversal. She had to be more careful.  Was not becoming productive.  She has two sisters and they were starting to bicker.  She talks about how the care manager is so helpful with the family.
  • Wendy shares another story that a client said to her “stop worrying, you worry too much. When we need you, well call you.  If we fall well call you.  Stop worrying every single day.”  This was helpful advice.
  • Zack asks Wendy a listener’s questions:  How do you handle a parent who is reluctant to move out of state so their kids or one of their kids can take care of them because they are afraid to leave the doctors they have established a good relationship with.
  • Wendy says this is very common. It’s always the adult child that calls her.  Start with assurance and good listening.  Would consult with a care manager if out of state.  Start having a conversation.   Going to be a process.  Going to help you.  Not going to happen in one week or a few months.  Need reassurance.  A care manager in the receiving state will help too, get records ahead of time, doctor appointment waiting when they move there.
  • Recap because this is so important: Have conversations early with your parents about a potential move down the road, don’t wait for an incident to occur.  Reassure them it’s going to be okay.  Be a good listener.  Perhaps use the services of a professional like a GCM.  Let them know this is going to take time, not overnight which causes fear and anxiety.
  • Got to do it in stages. Talk to them about their fears.  Fears based on history and routine and worry.  Would be nice to see more of the children, grandchildren.  Children are worried about them and cannot concentrate at work and better to be closer to each other.  Respect their independence.  Learning even with her own parents.  Back off a little and respect.  Embrace strengths of this person.  Let them live their lives like they want to.  Have some laughs about memories. They are very afraid and worried to be left alone, with no money.  Can become anxious.  Doctor may need to get involved.
  • Thank you for listening to Raising Rents! Join us for part 2 in our next episode as Wendy continues to share her experience  and knowledge about how a GCM or ACLA can help you walk the fine line in caring for your parents.  We will talk about community resources like food delivery services and veteran benefits.  We will Talk more about what a CGM or ALCA can offer, where to look to hire one, and what questions to ask to find the right one for your family.  We’ll also talk about Wendy’s great dog Sophie and how she is studying to be a therapy dog!
  • 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:


  • Raising ‘Rents Intro and Ending music by Arthaiz
  • Other music:  ” Acoustic Breeze”  by BENSOUND    http://www.bensound.com  and “Blue Dot Sessions” by Wahre http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Blue_Dot_Sessions/Cloud_Harbor/Wahre
  • Daughter Anastasia Demopoulos does the opening voice over
  • Thank you to guest Wendy Sabin
  • 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)