Case Management, Elder Care Management, File Review, Life Care Plan, Medical Consultation

Introducing The Geriatric Care Manager

 July 28, 2016

By  Deborah L Weiner Katz, OTR/L, CCM, CLCP

Old age may creep up on us all but when it comes to our loved ones, its effects on the family can be overwhelming and quite sudden. If you never heard of geriatric care management before your elder’s health began to decline, odds are that your current stressful situation might cause you to overlook such a vital resource. This is where we come in. Take a step back and use this moment to read about geriatric care managers and precisely what they bring to the table.

What is a geriatric care manager?

A geriatric care manger is simply a health care professional that has chosen to focus on assisting families with the care of their aging loved ones. Their chosen field can be any of the following: nursing, social work, gerontology or psychology. Primary responsibilities include:

  • Assessing your family’s needs, especially the needs and living situation of your loved one.
  • Assisting with the navigation of the healthcare system.
  • Planning and supervising all aspects of your family member’s care.

What are the financial benefits of hiring a geriatric care manager?

Have you heard the expression “You have to spend money to make money?” Revise that to “You have to spend money to save money” and you have an answer to this question that, while a bit paradoxical, is close to accurate. A geriatric care manager does do this for a living and so will come at a rate. Yet, first and foremost, a GCM’s purpose is to find cost-effective ways to care for your elder.

Whether it be a one-time assessment or ongoing care, the list of the financial benefits of hiring a GCM tends to outweigh those costs. Mere information passed on from a GCM can end up saving you money, such as benefit programs for veterans. These versatile individuals not only make valuable contributions to the decision making process but when elder law attorneys or financial planners are involved, they make excellent team players as well, acting as your liaison to these professionals. Better decisions and smarter planning both can lead to dollars saved in the long run.

How will a geriatric care manager help me make better decisions?

Without a doubt, moving a family member into an elder care facility can be one of the most difficult decisions facing a family. A GCM may offer suggestions that may very well delay that decision for at least a little while. Modifications to your loved one’s home, or yours if he or she is staying with you, might be an effective solution.

Let’s not forget that a GCM is a medical professional with valuable insight. Just the aptitude to assess someone’s ability to live on their own, or even their driving capacity, make for a far better foundation for future decisions than most families can come up with on their own. We wish we could say those future decisions will involve only one move for your loved one. The various stops on this journey include assisted living, the hospital, rehab and the nursing home.

How will a geriatric care manager help me navigate the healthcare system?

Did that full listing of locales give you a pause? We did not use the word ‘navigate’ by accident. While your family member may live in an assisted living facility or nursing home, hospitals or rehab facilities might warrant repeat visits. At the very least, a GCM can keep those to a minimum. Appointments accumulate but with a GCM in attendance, communication will be smoother and a doctor’s orders can be followed to a T. An accurate diagnosis and choosing the right specialist will go a long way toward streamlining your elder care experience.

Perhaps the best news of all is that the work of a GCM is not over once your loved one is settled in an elder care facility. The GCM may handle navigation but there is plenty to do while an elder is settled. A GCM will always liaise and communicate on your behalf. Meeting with the professionals employed at your family member’s new residence is a given. Stopping in at random to check on him or her is the sort of action you might expect from a trusted ally or close family friend. It is also the honor and privilege of a geriatric care manager to verify the level of social engagement and schedule of activities your loved one deserves.

By now, you have an idea of the special place this professional can assume in someone’s life. This means you can also count on him or her to look out for you. That’s right, being selfless always has one major downfall. It leads to a person forgetting the importance of their own role in the scheme of things. This could not be truer in the case of those who must care for an aging family member. That is where the work of the GCM comes full circle. Actually, a ‘circle’ might be one of their first suggestions. Sometimes, the ability to lean on others such as friends or other family members is a learned skill. Having that ‘circle of care’ allows you to recharge, recoup and resume your role in life’s compelling drama.

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