Life Care through the Aging Process

Rabbi Deborah J. Brin

“Look around us, search above us, below, behind.
We stand in a great web of being joined together.” Marge Piercy

“So Rabbi, what are you up to these days”? That was the question that one of my colleagues asked me a few weeks ago.  After explaining that in addition to preparing for High Holy Days at Nahalat Shalom, now I have a new position serving as a geriatric care manager working with older adults and their families. “What kind of help?” she asked. I explained that a community-based care manager, also known as an aging life care professional helps families by evaluating a situation, recommending the best resources, when needed coordinate services, attend appointments, arrange transportation, estate sales, moves to assisted living, etc.

My colleague, who is helping to care for her own elderly parents exclaimed, “You are being the daughter!” It’s true that in some cases our work looks similar to what many daughters are doing every day.  In most cases, however, we work with daughters and sons to offer guidance and advice to help insure that their loved one is living their best life; safely and with dignity.

After serving as the rabbi of Nahalat Shalom for ten years, I find myself integrating experiences from my earlier career in the services I am providing to clients of Decades LLC and our sister company, the Care Management Group of New Mexico. I am glad to be able to reinvent my rabbinate in a way that allows me to still do good and meaningful work in the world and continue to serve individuals and their families.  It is a natural continuation of work I have always done: pastoral care for congregants; hospice chaplaincy; and geriatric chaplaincy at Martins Run, the first Jewish life-care retirement community in the U.S.  Some of you may remember that twenty-four years ago, when I first moved to Albuquerque, I worked for JFS and not only started the Chevra Kaddisha [the Burial Society], but also staffed the Shalom House where I provided the residents with both social and religious services.

My father, of blessed memory, would have said that geriatric care management is the best thing since sliced bread. During my father’s final illness, the whole family could have used the support that a company like ours provides.  My mother and her four adult children, only one of whom lived nearby, would have benefitted from the evaluation and recommendations of a professional, in addition to helping us determine how to delegate tasks among ourselves.  In our case, hypothetically, we were challenged with managing the family finances after the sale of a business, as well as health care navigation, because chemotherapy interfered with Dad’s ability to handle it on his own.  As our needs increased, having gotten to know our family and its unique dynamics, values and concerns, a professional community based care manager could have been there to advise, navigate and consult as needed.

Since JFS no longer exists to provide services to elders in our community, other ways and means must be found to provide the support that we need as we care for loved ones and as we age ourselves. Support to ensure that those we love can continue to live vibrant and engaged lives and assistance that families need to navigate the health care maze, manage finances, and a care partner  that can be relied on to be there when the need arises.  At Decades LLC and the Care Management Group of New Mexico, there is an extraordinary multidisciplinary team of professionals with different backgrounds and skills that work together to meet the needs of those we serve. It includes care managers and financial managers with backgrounds in social work, nursing, the law, pastoral care, accounting, benefits, as well as probate, estate and property administration.

Every person’s aging journey is different, and the constellation of loved ones and friends varies as well. We help individuals and couples of whatever religious or cultural background and whether the elder is single, widowed, married or partnered, with adult children or with no direct descendants, heterosexual, gay, lesbian or transgender.  We get to know our clients and tailor our recommendations to fit their needs and values.  Once on board, we are available when needed and that includes evenings, weekends and holidays.

Want to know more? Call us at 345-5529 for a free initial consultation or join me and Nancy Oriola, our clinical director and CEO at a free workshop at Congregation Albert:


October 19th  7:00pm – 8:30pm “Quieting the Anxiety: Creating a Plan”

November 9th  7:00pm – 8:30pm “Ourselves Growing Older and Managing Well!!”

December 7th 7:00pm – 8:30pm  “Eldercare in the LGBTQ Community”

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