How to Select a Caregiving Support Consultant

Hiring a Caregiving Support Consultant

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Hiring a Caregiving Support Consultant isn’t the first thing we think about when faced with an unexpected Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia diagnosis. In fact, this includes any sort of caregiving responsibility you might acquire.

In many ways though, it should be.

The challenge is that it isn’t easy to know how to select a Caregiving Support Consultant who will have your best interests in mind. See how we use Cohen Caregiving Support Consultants in Portland, Oregon as an example of how to select someone that can provide a much needed service to you and your loved one.

First a Definition: Sherpa

From Urban Dictionary, here’s the definition of a Sherpa:

“Sherpa originally meant the tribe in Nepal whose social custom was to provide humane and courageous mountain guides to outsiders. This tribe didn’t use last names, so they were all referred to as Sherpas. To the Sherpa, all Himalayan peaks are sacred, so every tour holds ethical and religious meaning. Westerners picked up on this and use Sherpa to mean an assistant who knows more than the boss.”

This really resonated with us.

It is our belief that professional Caregiving Support Consultants are “Care Sherpas.” They provide humane and courageous support, since your loved one is sacred to you. They are ethical and often spiritual in their beliefs, values, and perspectives. Since they have the experience you need to learn, they become your valued assistant.

Sounds easy, right? Just hire a Caregiving Support Consultant and walk down the trail.


Caregiving is difficult. “I planned to be a family caregiver” said no one, ever! We don’t plan to be a family caregiver, so of course, we are not always prepared. Seldom do we see it coming… it just hits us!

So Now You’re a Caregiver

From Amazon

With this new title of Caregiver, you now have plenty to learn… QUICKLY! There are many questions to ask, and an overload of new information to sort out.

You quickly realize your biggest challenge is simply figuring out what the questions are! How do you know what to ask when you don’t know what to ask?

Hire a Caregiving Support Consultant

OK, we’ve established the value a Caregiving Support Consultant holds for caregivers looking for guidance. The difficulty really lies in selecting the right one for you.

Pick the right Sherpa, and you get solid guidance. Pick the wrong one, and… well… let’s try to prevent that, shall we?

Sorting Through the Chaff to Find the Wheat

Don’t misunderstand. There are many fine Caregiving Support Consultants available. But with any profession, some are better than others. Let’s look at ways you can identify the best one for you and your loved one.

Cohen Caregiving Support Consultants LLC

Similar to how we used Regency Home Care as an example to help you identify ways to select a Home Care agency, we’ll use the same format for hiring a Caregiving Support Consultant.

The best way for us to lay this out is to use another outstanding resource with whom we have a direct relationship. Cohen Caregiving Support Consultants LLC is based in Portland, Oregon. We’ve known Bill Cohen for several years and know his background, his attitudes, and of course, the fact his heart is in the exact right spot.

We’ll use Cohen Caregiving Support Consultants LLC as a framework for helping you identify the right traits to ensure the best possible outcome when engaging a Caregiving Support Consultant. To do that, we’ll pose a series of questions you should ask during your selection process.

Are they incorporated and registered with the state?

This really should be the first question. While being incorporated and registered does not guarantee quality, it does show they are taking their role seriously.

Attitude is a significant part of the support equation, and working within an incorporated structure shows a serious attitude toward the mission. Cohen Caregiving Support Consultants LLC is dead serious about guiding you in a direction that is right for you.

Do they have relevant education?

At the risk of getting into the “experience vs education” debate, I would be the first to stress that both are needed. While direct caregiving experience (more on that below) is critical, the broader perspectives that come from formal eduction in the field is equally important.

This is the first leg of the milk stool.

Bill Cohen has degrees and experience in business administration, government, financial services, investments, and insurance. Much of which comes into play when helping clients.

You deserve a Sherpa who has direct experience in the areas important to you and your loved one.

Do they have professional experience?

As the second leg, having the perspectives that come with professional training and experience is another critical area. This is a narrowing of the focus that starts with higher education. Involvement in appropriate professional settings is the start of that practical side of knowledge.

Bill Cohen has been involved in courses through the Alzheimer’s Association such as

  • CARES® Dementia Basics™
  • CARES® Dementia-Related Behavior™

He has also participated Teepa Snow’s GEMS program and multiple Alzheimer’s Association McGinty Conferences.

Ask probing questions to make sure the professional you are considering has experience in the areas that will be most beneficial.

Have they been a caregiver themselves?

This is the crucial third leg of that milk stool. Education and professional coursework are important, but unless your candidate has been in your shoes, they simply don’t have the experiential feelings that come with being a caregiver.

Bill Cohen has it. He has direct experience with Alzheimer’s Disease. When his mother Sheila was diagnosed, he became her primary caregiver and managed the issues you will face. It is that visceral feeling of caring for a loved one that Bill brings to bear with his clients.

You need someone not only to guide, but to relate and show empathy and compassion. When that sort of connection takes place, the guidance you will receive has the potential to be so much better.

Do they have access to a rich variety of resources?

Part of what you are “buying” when you engage a Caregiving Support Consultant is the ability for that person to send you in the right direction. A significant part of that guidance is knowing how to make the connection.

Recall how this started:

How do you know what to ask when you don’t know what to ask?

A quality, professional Caregiving Support Consultant knows what to ask. In this case, it comes in the form of a rich set of resources from which to pull. Having access to familiar and trusted resources — and connecting you to them based on your needs — is exactly what you are hiring.

Bill shares a wealth of resources and shares them on his website. Here are just the general categories:

  • Support, Resources and Self-Care
  • Lifestyle & Transitions
  • Medical Products and Home Services
  • Homecare, Support & End of Life Services
  • Legal, Financial & Real Estate
  • Prevention and Healthy Lifestyle Choices

When digging deeper, he can likely expand the items shown in each of these categories by a order of magnitude. Press the person you’re considering to see just how deep of a resource pool they have – and how well they know how to connect you.

Do they give back to the community?

A sign of the “heart being in the right place” is going beyond billable hours. It includes exhibiting the passion that comes from simply helping out where needed.

Bill leads an annual team for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. In addition, he volunteers as a dementia support group facilitator and advocates for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Ask your Caregiving Support Consultant candidate just how much they give back.

Can you afford them?

“Affordability” carries three different ways to look at the financial part of hiring a Caregiving Consultant.

FirstDo they provide a free initial consultation session? They should. This is not the same thing as trying a new product from the grocery store. You are considering someone with whom you will work closely to provide quality care for your loved one. It is very appropriate to expect a free test drive to see if there is a good fit.

Second Just how expensive are they? The reality is they charge a fee for a service delivered. None of us would begrudge them the right to do so. At the same time though, your personal budget needs to be able to afford it. Don’t be shy to ask.

Third Are the ways they charge for their services convenient for you? Do they charge in such a way the fits — or not — how you would like to use their services? For example, charging a daily rate for when only a couple hours of consultation is needed may not be the best for you.

Bill Cohen does indeed start with an initial consultation free of charge. This helps Bill ask questions, listen, and assess the need and how you might work together in the best possible manner.

Next, he offers a monthly retainer program that allows up to 6 hours per month – used any way needed – to help you in multiple ways, based on what is likely a continually changing horizon.

Finally, he offers moderate hourly rates at just a 2 hour minimum for those circumstances where occasional, but highly targeted guidance is needed. In fact, he even offers remote support via phone, Skype, or occasional travel.

Seems like there is something for everyone.

Select Your Sherpa

If you are considering a professional Caregiving Support Consultant to help your journey with your loved one living with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, use our guide to assist you in your selection. Get referrals, check references, do all the above.

This is a very important selection for you and your loved one.

There are many fine Caregiving Support Consultants out there, but you need to:

  • Be diligent
  • Vet them carefully
  • Use our critique of Cohen as a guide
  • Make sure you are engaging a sherpa that can really be your guide

Feel free to share this with your friends who might be facing these challenges. Please add your own experiences in the comments below.

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