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After 23 years in business Elder Options is the only geriatric home care management agency in the county, said its founder, Carol Heape.
With six certified care managers, 70 field employees and 15 in Tahoe, ElderOptions has more social workers and nurses credentialed in the field of aging than any other agency, Heape said. It is located at 82 Main St. in Placerville. Care managers work with families in Sacramento and Placer counties as well.
All of the agency’s care managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work or geriatrics and are certified by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. To become certified they have to work under the guidance of someone already a Certified Professional Geriatric Care Manager and then pass a national test. Continuing education is required.
Heape , who holds a Master of Social Work degree from California State University, Sacramento, has been on the board of directors of the NAPGCM for the past four years, this year serving as treasurer. She also is a Fellow of the NAPGCM Leadership Academy.
“Regardless of what type of living arrangement individuals have as they grow older, there almost always comes a time when outside help is required,” she said. “As a person ages and becomes more disabled, the need will increase.”
Elder Options also works “with families of all ages,” Heape said. That means helping develop options for people remaining at home who have multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Hunting’s disease. Elder Options has a contract with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“We help families develop a plan,” Heape said.
Elder Options has contracts with the state Department of Health Care Service to work with MediCal patients to stay at home or come out of a nursing home to stay at home “as long as it is the cost neutral.”
The agency also has a contract with Alta California to provide respite care for parents of children with various mental and physical impairments that require constant attention. Respite care allows the parents a break for so many hours a month.
The geriatric care manager conducts an initial home visit and assessment with the client and family and provides ongoing supervision.
An Alzheimer’s Support Group meets the third Monday of the month at 10 a.m. at the Elder Options office.