People often ask me how I got into the field of gerontology. I believe everything I have experienced has led me to this point in time where I can actually make a difference in the lives of others. My own father was 60 years old when I was born. Throughout my childhood and teenage years my dad was in his seventies, divorced and struggling with health issues, coping with loss and change while trying to raise a difficult teenager ( me! ).
I was very close to my dad as I lived with him in some of my formative years. While I was able to observe him from the perspective as a child and young adult, it was not easy to understand what he was going through. What I learned at his bedside before he passed away forever changed my life. I realize now that seniors need good really advocates, someone present who cares, who will listen, empathize and believe in their own special uniqueness.
Jennifer began practicing eldercare management as a result of many experiences in her personal, educational and professional life. She also found it allowed her to use her skills and knowledge bridging the physiological, psychological and sociological aspects of the aging process: allowing her to assist not only the aging parent but the adult children and the family support systems which are often involved.
Jennifer attended Antioch University Los Angeles where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1996, and began her work with older adults at The Center for Healthy Aging in Santa Monica, California at The Peer Counseling Center for the Older Adult. From the beginning she was interested in the emotional challenges facing aging adults and this was greatly influenced by her relationship with her father and seeing his struggles firsthand.
Her career in gerontology further developed while working for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at The University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1998, where she received her Master’s degree in Gerontology. It was there that she administrated and implemented a community outreach program for “at risk seniors” with Dementia/Alzheimer’s. This Memory Enhancement Seminar for Seniors (MESS) was a pilot program which involved teaching at risk seniors in the Inglewood community, proactive strategies to keep memory sharp, as well as educating them about the differences between normal vs. abnormal memory changes.
While at USC, she furthered her knowledge by co-authoring a manual for teachers on how to replicate this proactive model in the community. After graduation , she worked part time in a care management private practice in 2006 for one of the early pioneers in the field of geriatric care management, while aligning herself with a well-respected neurologist who was chief of staff Las Robles hospital in Thousand Oaks, CA. As a consultant and employee of a medical practice, she furthered her understanding of how the medical, cognitive, and psychological challenges intersect, and impact those who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease. Jennifer went on to achieve national board certification (CMC) in geriatric care management—awarded by the National Association of Certified Care Managers (NACCM) and formulated her own private practice in 2011.
Her volunteer interests include being an active member of ALCA(formerly The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) editorial board –serving as special features editor for the publication Inside GCM from 2007-2013; then was selected by the executive board to take on the role of editor in chief for The New Journal from 2013-2016, published by the Aging Life Care Association (formerly NAPGCM) which provides cutting edge research and practicum information. She frequently writes in trade journals, is involved in public speaking and is often to be interviewed about care giving issues.