Eldercare as Art and Ministry – combining life’s passions

Aging Life Care Association® members are distinguished for their high qualifications, adherence to standards of practice, and a drive to care for older adults. And it is this distinction as an Aging Life Care Manager® that separates them from people who are geriatric care managers.

And one such notable member is Irene V. Jackson-Brown, Ph.D., CSA, CMC, CDP who has published her book Eldercare as Art and Ministry. Irene is an author, speaker, consultant, caregiver’s coach, and educator.

Focusing on eldercare as an art, with ministry, is a unique angle where someone like Irene has special insight.

After earning a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology, Irene held several academic appointments and then moved to the not-for-profit sector. When her father grew ill, she juggled work, her family and personal life, along with responsibilities as a hands-on family caregiver.

About two years into her father’s illness, Irene learned about geriatric care management through a newspaper article. Without hesitation, she made an appointment with one of the few nearby care managers. “With her guidance, I got through one of the most tortuous, but satisfying, periods of my life,” Irene admitted.

It was soon after her father’s death, in 2005, that Irene created Jackson-Brown Associates, LLC, d/b/a “The Art of Eldercare” as an applied gerontology practice. This is where Irene’s unique twist on eldercare comes in: her practice (and book) benefit from the partnership with Enrique R. Brown, her husband of forty-six years. As an Episcopal priest (retired) with extensive pastoral experience, administration, and program development, Irene acknowledges how her husband helps her, “Enrique offers care and helps steady me in this work. He is my caregiver.”

Irene holds several certifications as a senior-servicing professional — CMC (Care Manager Certified) from the Association of Aging Life Care Professionals (ALCA); CSA (Certified Senior Advisor) from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors; and a CDP (Certified Dementia Practitioner) from the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners.

Like her counterparts at ALCA, Irene has a wealth of continuing education experiences, including a multi-year, post-graduate certificate from the Washington School of Psychiatry’s program entitled, “The Study of Aging and Clinical Application.” She was also a Fellow in a year-long program on clinical-related topics in psychanalysis at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis. And she has a certificate of completion from the Georgetown University Medical Center’s Herbert B. Hercowitz Mini-Medical School Program.

Irene earned credits from The George Washington University’s School of Business and Public Management’s Project Management Program to enhance already notable communication and successful goal achievement skills.

The book is a guide to navigate the challenges of eldercare and to find meaning in this important work through stories, lessons, and poignant vignettes. Jackson-Brown calls each one of us whether young or older, ordained or laity, fortunate or less fortunate, prepared or not, to serve and care for an aging loved one.

Dr. Kumea Shorter-Gooden, Ph.D., a psychologist with a consulting practice spoke at Jackson-Brown’s virtual book launch on November 17, 2020. Dr. Shorter-Gooden has known Irene for more than 44 years, starting when Irene was first caring for her newborn son and pursuing life as an academic in Ethno-musicology, through now, as an Applied Gerontologist and an expert on eldercare.

Dr. Shorter-Gooden stated:

Eldercare as Art and Ministry

Eldercare as Art and Ministry brings to the fore Irene’s knowledge and wisdom — to help us navigate in this complicated arena – caring for our mothers and partners and loved ones.  And, frankly, wondering about our own care as we age — what it will look like, and how we can shape it and make it what we want!

Irene’s deep well of experience and expertise comes from her training as a cultural anthropologist, her work as an educator, her service on behalf of the Episcopal Church, and her lived experience as a caregiver of aging, ailing parents. That experience in particular taught her that we, as a society, can do better, and led to her pursuit of education and practice in this arena.

Eldercare as Art and Ministry is a beautifully written resource that combines important facts and little-known information with stories that resonate. It normalizes the challenges and struggles of caring for elders, while broadening our perspective on the interplay of art and ministry and the meaning of this life-supporting work.

Over the years, Jackson-Brown Associates, LLC, located in Washington, D.C., has served clients along the East Coast and as far away as California through consultations and guidance. With two divisions, Care Management and Project Management, Jackson-Brown Associates centers on issues and projects that impact the lives of seniors and their loved ones.

Living in Washington, D.C. with her husband, a retired Episcopal priest, Irene has an adult son and a partner, Irene’s “daughter-in-love.” At the time of publication, she has grand-dogs but is now expecting her first grandchild, a girl!