Geriatric Care Managers Fill a Growing Need

Related topics: Caregivers, Legal & Financial

More and more families are providing care for aging parents. Many are struggling to balance their caregiving responsibilities with their own lives, work responsibilities, perhaps the needs of children who still live at home. Caregiver burnout is a real possibility. It is so important to be aware of support services that can help.


In situations when it becomes clear that an older person is no longer able to live alone entirely unassisted, the person and family members may be unsure of what services are available in the community to help. They may wonder how best to take advantage of those services. A geriatric care manager can help.

Most professional care managers have experience in either nursing or social work. Many have special training in issues involving eldercare. Their job is to assess a client's individual needs, then match those needs with services available in the community.

A care manager will usually begin a client relationship by doing an assessment of the client's health status, living situation and needs. In the course of an extensive interview, the older adult's physical and mental condition, social situation, and daily activities are evaluated. Usually a written report of this assessment is provided, with suggestions as to services available to meet identified needs.

Care managers can locate support services such as meal programs, transportation, help with the activities of daily living, assistance with bill paying, in-home health care and other support for independent living. If the client and family wish, the care manager can then arrange for the needed services, and provide follow-up care and monitoring to see that necessary services are being effectively and professionally delivered, and to make sure that the client's needs are being met over an extended period of time. If moving to an assisted living or nursing facility is appropriate, a care manager can help in identifying and evaluating the various options available.

When caregiving starts to get complicated, care managers are a wonderful resource to manage and balance several concerns. They can schedule assistance and keep multiple family members informed. They can serve as an "on the scene" surrogate for long-distance caregivers. They can help with family communication and meetings, and help settle disagreements. They can also serve as an advocate in dealing with the health care system, insurance plans and so forth.

How to Choose a Care Management Professional

Private care management services are largely unregulated. The qualifications of groups or individuals offering to act as private geriatric care managers vary widely. So, be careful who you select for this role. This means asking questions before making your selection. Things to ask include:

  • What are the person's qualifications, education and experience? How long has the person been providing geriatric care management services?
  • Will the person provide references? Ask for two or three references from past or current clients—or if that's not possible because of confidentiality, ask for the names of professionals in the community who are referring new clients to this person, such as physicians or elder law attorneys. Then, call the references you've been given and gather as much information as you can about the care manager and the services he/she provides.
  • Is this person or firm affiliated with a particular organization? If so, what are that organization's values and commitment to service? Will the care manager be able to be objective in making recommendations?
  • What is the range of services provided?
  • What are the charges, and what particular services are covered by the charges?
  • Are the charges competitive with other services in the community?

How Do I Find a Care Manager?

Private geriatric care managers who are members of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers are listed at their website, www.caremanager.org.

It is often difficult to juggle caregiving responsibilities in already complicated lives. The emergence of a new group of service providers—geriatric care managers—is a welcome development for busy family members, especially those living far away. Geriatric care managers can evaluate care needs and coordinate services, making sure that your loved one's care needs are met on a one-time or ongoing basis.

Professional Geriatric Care Managers throughout the country are celebrating National Geriatric Care Manager Month by providing seminars, webinars, special events related to geriatric care management, open houses and other educational activities for the public. This event is sponsored by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM). Visit the NAPGCM website to learn more about the services offered by geriatric care managers, and to find a care manager in your area.


   





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