I am honored to help senior adults and their families reduce worry, increase joy, and know someone has their back. I am a licensed clinical social worker and nationally certified as a geriatric case manager.
I do this work because I have always felt drawn to seniors struggling with dementia because they still have so much to offer, and our culture does not know how to support them.
Often there is injustice, loss, and confusion that arise from people not knowing how to support these individuals.
I want to be the person who can be there for these adults and their families and help them rest, regroup, and know that they can still be OK and safe even when they feel they are losing parts of themselves.
My passion for working with struggling older adults stems from watching my parents struggle through the mess of services, facilities, caregivers, and difficult conversations with their parents as they dealt with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, cancers, and slow declines of my endearing, hilarious, stubborn, and strong-personalitied grandparents.
I came to realize that there needed to be a better way.
My parents needed to know what were the treatment options for my grandpa’s disease & how could they honor his wishes. They needed someone to help them talk with my grandpa about driving. They needed someone to tell them what questions to ask the neurologist at his appointment. They needed someone to help them figure out what was the disease and what was the personality. They needed someone help them not take it personally when Grandpa, who I called Pop, got angry at them. They needed someone to help Grandma Janey quit resisting help and driving away the live-in caregiver.
For example, Grandma Janey started having to call the fire department every few days to help my Pop get up from falling. At some point, my parents realized that him living at home was not working anymore, and he might need to be in a place with more support. But they didn’t know exactly when that point was or what were his options.
They needed someone to help them find appropriate caregivers and know when it was time to move to a different place.
When I first heard about social workers working with older adults, I felt relieved that people like my parents could get help in knowing what services and options were available. I felt comforted to know that instead of stressing late at night, they could rest knowing that their loved one was safe and well cared for. And to learn that I, as a social worker, could be the one to provide the family with this relief and comfort was exciting.
But it wasn’t until my second year of graduate school at my internship at Eaton Senior Communities that I knew that geriatric social work was my niche.
I knew that I made the right choice when I was meeting a client named Helen in her home to assess her for the assisted living, and she was struggling so much with loss of her home, belongings, and her memory. She was a tough woman who had lived independently her whole life. As she was talking about giving away her dog, I remember feeling her pain deeply and knowing that she was exactly the type of person that I wanted to spend the rest of my career honoring and supporting.
I left the assessment that day and told my supervisor Gwen, “THIS is my home (referring to working with seniors). This is it!” I was elated and overjoyed to find that who I wanted to be in my career was a geriatric social worker.
When I made this choice, I knew that I had opened up a box of gold that no one else knew about. And I get to carry that box each and every day as I walk with seniors and guide them and their families through the maize of services, supports, and decision making that is out there as people age and deal with diseases causing dementia.
I am honored to have received my master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver. I chose the University of Denver because it had great clinical training and an excellent geriatric specialty program.
One of the other benefits of my graduate program is that it allowed me to move from Minnesota to Colorado. I have relatives in Colorado and was drawn to it because of a combination of family, the hiking, and the beauty of the mountains. And here my profession and my passions aligned.
I would love to discover if I can be of assistance to you. Please check out my Elder Care Services page to find out more about how I help families find more peace of mind.