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Monday, July 16, 2012



In June, I was able to do something I had wanted to do for several years…take the course and pass the test to receive the Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) designation.

In 2002, I earned my Masters in Business Administration degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC. In 2005, when I started my Home Instead Senior Care business, I felt I had an academic and professional foundation to start and run a business. Though I didn’t have a clinical healthcare background, I had a passion for serving seniors, the leadership skills to build my organization, and the tenacity to grow a senior home care operation from scratch starting with no clients and no CAREGivers.

I have found tremendous advantages in being inside the franchise system that pioneered non-medical in-home care and that today is the largest and most trusted provider in this niche. Besides all the support from Home Instead, Inc., wonderful employees, and my family; I truly feel my Heavenly Father has watched over my endeavors and blessed me at many critical moments along the way.

Five years and 500 clients later (and two children), I have a wonderful small business that gives me the opportunity to add value to society in so many ways. I have seen and learned so much in these five years, and I truly feel that the service my CAREGivers and staff provide has attributes of quality and personalization that set me apart from my competitors. Still, I suppose that some of my more clinical referral providers could question my qualifications to run an organization that makes such a difference for the health and well being of seniors.

So, to me, earning the Certified Senior Advisor designation was an important step in my professional development. Also, I think it will help me demonstrate to my constituents that I have gone the extra mile to obtain knowledge and understanding about seniors, their needs, and their special circumstances.

What did I learn in the process of becoming a CSA? The curriculum for the course is designed to support professionals of all kinds who work with seniors by providing broad-based knowledge of the health, social, and financial issues that are important to seniors. The course involved three full days of classes and on the fourth day was a 3-hour exam. Because we were covering such a massive amount of information across a broad range of topics, I did feel like I was drinking from a fire hose. However, the thick textbook that is the basis for the course is a great resource that I will be able to refer to regularly in my work with seniors.

This list includes some of the things I learned:

  • Seniors’ three top fears – and how I can help seniors address them
  • Special physiological and nutritional needs of seniors
  • Signs of normal cognitive aging versus dementia
  • Where most seniors prefer to live – and the newest choices in senior housing
  • What seniors should know about Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security
  • Key questions seniors should ask before they buy long-term care insurance
  • What advance directives do and don’t do
  • The stages and tasks of grief – and how to respond to someone who’s grieving
  • How to market ethically to seniors
  • Best ways to communicate with seniors – and what not to do
In summary, I would definitely recommend the CSA designation to professionals who work with seniors in any capacity. As an owner and operator of an in-home care agency, the course gave me new knowledge, particularly about how Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid work. Also, the material served as an excellent overview of my existing knowledge base in regards to building relationships with seniors and their loved ones. It’s nice to have it all in one book.

To learn more about becoming a Certified Senor Advisor, please visit the web site of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors at

Blog posting provided by Mike Brunt, CSA

Download June's issue of Senior Spirit, featuring Mike's CSA Spotlight article.