Meet Meredith Patterson, MSW, LICSW, CMC and Early Founder of GCM, pre-ALCA

November 27, 2023   |   Special Spotlight

Meredith Patterson photographWhere do you practice, Meredith?

Our offices have been located in Concord, Mass. Our clients reside in approximately 20 communities from Boston/Cambridge to Newton/Wellesley to Lexington/Concord/Harvard and all of  the towns in between.  “On the road again!”

Tell us about your involvement and experience with ALCA. 

My “ALCA Journey” began 35 years ago as one of the earliest members of what was then called The National Association of Private Geriatric Care Managers. We were a small group of Masters-prepared social workers and nurses in Boston and New York City. Our group, which later became the New England Chapter, met once a month in one of our offices for shared practice issues and the development of this specialty. There were no people to follow and no text books to read. There was no clear guidance to be found. We were it! We set forth to be a part of an exciting “project.” We played a significant role  in developing the New England Chapter and the National Organization (NAPGCM). What  a wild ride! It was a professional opportunity that we created for ourselves and for generations of Care Managers and renamed Aging Life Care Professionals within ALCA. There were Standards of Practice to be written and a Code of Ethics. I served on both Committees. I became the Chair of the newly developed National Grievance Committee which went on for years and still exists. Then there was the National Board of Directors for ten years in which I learned from my colleagues and also contributed to in many ways. I was forthright in my ideas (and opinions, shall we say).

Within a few years of NAPGM’s early development, the Management Association came to the realization that we had to grow to be sustainable. We began to grow through multiple conversations about being more inclusive. This meant that members no longer had to have a Master’s degree in one of two fields and could practice with a Bachelor’s degree.  The word “Private” was removed from the name of NAPGCM to “Professional.” It was in later years that the membership broadened to include other health-related practitioners becoming Geriatric Care Managers.  Eventually, Certification was created and so much more. These were such exciting and inspiring times!

As an exceedingly active member on the local and national level, I felt and expressed my passion for this specialty and wanted to see us “on the map.”  I was driven to have our profession be visible,  recognized, understood, and wanted. “My shoes were made for walking and my jaw was meant to move.” Hours and days and months and years passed as myself and  fellow GCMs found our way to law firms, trust departments, financial planners, wealth advisors and so many more professionals to “sell our wares” through education. I lost track of the number of meetings and talks that I gave with various firms, organizations, corporations, churches, synagogues as well as older adults and their families.

It was 1994. I was still a national Board Director. I became President of GCM-NE. I was fervent to have Geriatric Care Managers become a “household name.” I requested that we have a committee whose direction was to write a brochure. Now get ready for this! It would cost each GCM $75 to have their name and contact info listed. After much pushback, we printed our first brochure. We  also strongly suggested that people invest in a fax machine.  Hard to believe now in almost 2024! We got a phone number and developed “The Book,” a system to track the number of referrals and to whom they were sent. Our small group took turns each month having the responsibility to respond to phone calls of potential clients or those interested in being a GCM. A report would be given at our monthly meetings.  It was also at this time that I suggested to ALFs and CCRCs that we could create a “win-win” by having our monthly meetings at their community, thus providing a roof over our heads that was larger than our individual offices and  for them to be able to tour a growing number of Chapter members. It was a winner! (Hope this history is fun for you to read!)

So many more stories for another time.

What led you to the profession of Aging Life Care?

It was 1988. I had been working as a Neuropsychiatric Social Worker at Beth Israel Hospital and later recruited by Harvard Community Health Plan (all ten health centers) to conduct a needs assessment and develop a Department of Social Service. I would be the Chief. How cool was that!

It was then that I realized that  there might be a place for a social worker beyond a geriatric clinical practice with older people . If hospitalized, a person would have access to clinical social workers with “their tool boxes” of resources prior to discharge. At that time, hospital stays were much longer and discharge planning extended over days and sometimes weeks. A “lightbulb went off!” Folks out in the community could benefit from a practitioner in the community, not affiliated with an entity other than one they might create.  A “ tool box” of resources would be in hand. This could be its own professional specialty!

So, with others who who were thinking the same, we got together in person (no Zoom) and figured out how we could practice independently.  I was going to open a practice/business specializing in the provision of Care Management. My twist on the name GCM was to call myself an Elder Life Consultant. It bombed because people thought that I was selling life insurance. My next and final rendition to this day has been Elder Care Consultant. At the time, not everyone in the association was a fan of that title. I believed in it because my clients were very clear that the word geriatric projected a person who was feeble and dependent. Over the years, I have seen others in the Association adopt this title. It has only been the last handful of years that some ALCA members have adopted Aging Life Care Professional.

What resources or services do you frequently recommend to your clients to help them navigate the aging process more effectively?

A very quick concrete answer would be to say that my motto has always been “no stone unturned.” Scour the planet to find what it is that our clients could benefit from and make it happen! Then there is the art of this opportunity with clients who may be experiencing physical and emotional challenges. This is where my clinical training and experience has been invaluable. As we know, people’s lives are complicated. It is common to have our emotions mixed up with practical need. A really skilled Aging Life Care Professional should have this magic combo of ability to lend their strength and to share options and choices with their clients.

What is one piece of advice you can offer to those new to Aging Life Care?

Be passionate! Learn something new every day! Take care of yourself while doing this work. I can’t stress enough how critically important it is for you to attend to your wellbeing so that you can continue to show up for your clients and their families, whether their families are of origin or chosen. Make sure you take responsibility for what you bring to your clients. Yes, of course I mean that you bring your knowledge and resources and kindness. I also mean that you “do your work”  to own what is yours from what is theirs. This translates to the importance of your own therapy as well as professional supervision by highly capable practitioners.

Tell us something you enjoy doing in your free time:

I enjoy having fun and finding joy in my relationships with family and friends. My hands in the dirt has always been one of the ways that I feed my heart and soul. Showing up for others continues to be my passion. Don’t get me wrong, we all need others to care for us too! Create your own path. Cook up a storm and be with like-minded folks who live from a position of curiosity and compassion.

Although this doesn’t quite answer the question at hand, I feel obliged to share that I spend a goodly amount of time focused on the -isms in our community and beyond. I am active in organizations and groups who advocate for marginalized groups of people.

To reach Meredith:    Meredith Beit Patterson, MSW, LICSW, CMC; Founder & Managing Director;  Elder Care Consultants of Choice;


Are you interested in participating in our  “Spotlights” series of the ALCA New England Chapter’s new members, Board and Committee members, members who have been with ALCA for many years and Corporate Partners?  This is an opportunity for all Chapter members and partners to get to know each other better.  To learn more, visit this page.