Have you heard of geriatric care managers?
Do you know what one could do for you and your senior loved one?
Would it be great to have an expert in your corner?
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when caring for your senior loved one and wish that you had another set of eyes or hands?
Do you need help managing your senior’s health, getting them needed resources or help them age successfully? Does your family need more education in order to agree on a course of action to meet your senior’s needs?
What family caregiver wouldn’t welcome a bit of help in those areas?
A geriatric care manager may be in your future!
What is a Geriatric Care Manager?
Geriatric Care Managers (GCM) are coordinators, advocates and cheerleaders for the health of your senior loved one in collaboration with family caregivers. They are specialists who help with a senior’s overall health and well-being.
A GCM is a trained professional who is certified by the National Association of Professional GCM (NAPGCM) to help your senior maintain their highest level of functioning and independence.
They are advisors, coaches, and supporters but are not doctors. They don’t diagnose medical conditions but rather help you help your senior manage their treatment plans and access needed resources.
A GCM can help answer your questions and guide you in finding the answers that will meet your senior’s needs. Their guidance is directed toward the senior and helping you navigate healthcare and resources so that you can make an informed decision.
If you are a family caregiver who works outside the home, having a geriatric care manager to help will reduce your stress and focus your efforts by guiding you on a path that can reduce wasted time and effort when seeking solutions.
According to the NAPGCM, a care manager can assist with these various needs:
- Housing selection and options
- Medical management and adherence to treatment plans
- Attending doctor appointments, facilitating communication
- Home care
- Social activities
- Safety and security
- Communicating with family, caregivers and healthcare team members
- Legal issues
- Connecting to resources such as federal programs or entitlements
A geriatric care manager works together with the family caregivers and senior to establish a care plan and strategies to achieve it as well as updating it as situations warrant.
How Do You Select a Geriatric Care Manager?
Finding a care manager that fits with your family unit is important. A person that connects well with you and your senior, is understanding to your needs and willing to go to bat for you is the one you want.
There are questions you can ask to help you find the right supporter including these:
- Is there an area of specialty that the geriatric care manager works? Some specialize in specific areas which may or may not meet your needs. Ask if this person works specifically with dementia patients, disabilities, just legal concerns or some other area depending on which area you need.
- What is their background? Are they a nurse, social worker, mental health therapist, attorneys or some other health professional? This might help you decide if their background meshes with your needs.
- Do they charge initial consultation fees and what are their fees for each meeting?
- Ask if they are a certified member (not an associate) of the NAPGCM or if they are licensed in their profession. Will they share their credentials and associations?
- What hours and days are they available? Are those convenient to you? What if your senior has an emergency during off hours?
- How best do they communicate – telephone, text messaging, email or do you have to leave voice mails and wait for a response?
- Do they have references, especially other family members, you can contact?
- Are there other members who work with the care manager as part of the team? What are their roles?
Asset for Long Distance Caregivers
Family caregivers providing care for senior loved one from long distance can really benefit from having someone nearby their senior loved one.
The geriatric care manager can visit the home or facility and check things out for you. They can hire local people to perform services such as home maintenance or other home care providers for you. They will know who in the community is trustworthy.
In short, a geriatric care manager can be a godsend for the long distance caregiver.
If you want some help locating a geriatric care manager in your area through the association that certifies them, check out at CareManager.org.
Realizing that you can’t always do everything yourself, you don’t always know the best place to get help, what help is available, or how to get the respite family caregivers desperately need is an important part of being a successful (and healthy) caregiver.
A geriatric care manager could help you meet not just your senior loved one’s needs but also your own!