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What is a geriatric care manager and how can they help me and my family?

If you are like a lot of people with parents in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and even 100s, the fear creeps in before the reality does. At some point, the very people who you’ve depended on your whole life will come to depend on you. For most of us, our parents were the bedrock of our stability. Even into adulthood, our parents are still our parents. They’ve always been there for us. But what happens when they can’t be there for us? What happens when we need to be there for them? How and when do we intervene? What resources are available to help us through this process? None of these questions have a simple answer, but fortunately, there are professional guides that can help quickly calm what can be overwhelming situations.

As the reality of aging, loss of independence, and ongoing health challenges start to emerge, loved ones and family members are faced with one main question:

“What do I do now?”

It’s a question that will inevitably come. For some families, the answer will be simple, with all of the pieces smoothly falling into place. While for others, particularly families that are in crisis and need to make decisions quickly, that question is much more difficult to answer. Aging isn’t always linear and smooth. One day your loved one may be fine, and the next, you notice changes in memory or in ability to safely complete tasks of daily living. We brush it off as a normal part of aging and even joke about never being able to find the car keys ourselves. But what if these changes become more pronounced. Or what if something else happens, like a fall or a break. Or what if your independent parent has to go to the hospital multiple times over a short period. If you feel that something needs to be addressed, it likely needs to be done sooner rather than later.

But where do you start? At the very least, it may be a good idea to start putting together a plan for what to do, where to go and who to call. At Private Home Care, we work closely with a number of third-party geriatric care management practices who help families make informed decisions about long-term care options. These professionals are private advocates for their clients, and provide them with an additional layer of oversight and transparency. Care Managers are able to navigate resources efficiently, intervene in a crisis and help organize a plan of care to save you time, while tailoring options to your loved ones’ specific needs and goals. Here are just a few more ways Care Manager can help:

  • Answering questions and addressing any emotional concerns surrounding life and care changes
  • Crisis intervention
  • Facilitating conversations about starting care; introducing caregivers and care options
  • Highlighting and tackling areas of concern
  • Advocating for the caregiver as well as the care recipient
  • Putting together long-term care options based on your loved one’s objectives and budget
  • Serving as a liaison to family members who live out of town
  • Scheduling and attending medical appointments with clients
  • Tracking an individual’s recovery progress and plan of care
  • Serving as a trustworthy point of contact for clients and their families
  • Helping clients who do not have local family members stay in their homes for as long as they choose with hourly or live-in care services. 

Step 1:

Contact a Geriatric Care Manager (or simply, “Care Manager”) in your area. For help locating a Care Manager or a Care Management practice in your area, you can visit the Aging Life Care Association at https://www.aginglifecare.org. If you have more questions about Care Managers or what they do, Private Home Care can certainly be a resource and can provide referrals for Care Managers we’ve worked with in our community. Think of a Care Manager as a patient advocate. They can perform an in-home, professional assessment, uncover the needs of the patient, and document them for next steps or a plan of action.

Step 2:

Start putting together a plan. A plan of action could, and should, encompass some or all of the following:

  1. Medical – Do you have a complete list of medications and health records? If not get them in order. There may come a time when you can’t ask and get a reliable answer.
  2. Financial Housekeeping – Do you have a complete list of all life insurance, social security, investments, etc? Make sure you have an up-to-date file in a safe place that you can access when you need to. 
  3. Financial Planning – There are ways to preserve money without depleting everything. Star preparing.
  4. Power of Attorney – Get a working power of attorney to be able to make decisions (Elder Law). Some Care Managers can be the Power of Attorney for individuals who do not have family or friends able to fulfill this role.

Care Managers can provide assistance navigating the following:

  • In home hourly care and live-in care
  • Home health care
  • Independent living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing Communities
  • Hospice
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Social services and community programs
  • Referrals to legal, financial or medical professionals

If you are reading this article because you are considering a Care Manager for a loved one or yourself, it’s important to take a step back and remember that you are not alone. A Care Manager can help you navigate options and create a safe and enriching environment. At Private Home Care, we value the amazing work being done by Care Managers in our communities and see great value in the professional guidance they can provide. For more information on Geriatric Care Managers or what they do, please feel free to reach out to us at any time. 

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