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When Answers Aren’t Easy

A geriatric care manager can alleviate stress and worry for family members while considering care options and managing responsibilities for loved ones.

When it becomes clear that an older member of the family is no longer able to live alone entirely unassisted, that individual and family members may need to make care choices to improve the quality of life. It can be difficult to know what kinds of services are available in the community to provide that needed care. That’s where a geriatric care manager can be an lifeline for selecting the appropriate level of care.

A geriatric care manager is a valuable resource to help manage and balance concerns about the appropriate level of care when caring for aging family members  get complicated. She can schedule in-home care assistance and communicate with all the family members on the care required. A geriatric care manager serves as an “on the scene” surrogate for long-distance family members. She also serves as an advocate in dealing with the health care system, insurance plans, housing needs, and elder law. Many geriatric care managers have experience in nursing or social work, as well as 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 begins a new client relationship by doing an in-home assessment of the client’s health status, living situation and needs. During  an extensive interview, the geriatric care managers evaluates the older adult’s physical and mental condition, social situation, and daily activities. A written report of this assessment provides suggestions about services available to meet the 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.

How to Choose a Geriatric Care Management Professional

The qualifications of groups or individuals offering to act as private geriatric care managers vary widely. Ask 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?

Home Health Companions’ geriatric care manager and Aging Life Care Professional™ Lisa Shardon offers a client-centered approach in caring for older adults. She is a resource for families and medical providers, sharing answers to questions about ongoing health care during times of uncertainty.

Call 214-295-8213 if you or someone you know might need geriatric care management. Home Health Companions will provide an in-home assessment and get started on finding answers. Call today.

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The article titled, “Geriatric Care Managers Fill a Growing Need,” originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of the “Aging In Stride” newsletter.

The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, was formed in 1985 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families in the United States. Aging Life Care Professionals have extensive training and experience working with older adults, people with disabilities, and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. They assist families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of Aging Life Care and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information or to access a nationwide directory of Aging Life Care Professionals, please visitaginglifecare.org.