Geriatric Care Managers: A Gift to Seniors and Their Families
My husband cares for his uncle who is 79 years old and lives in another state, 400 miles away from our home. There are a couple of relatives who live near his uncle, but my husband is responsible for making sure that his uncle has all the services he needs. My husband also has a full time job, a family, and not enough time to travel often to take care of his uncle’s affairs.
For over a year he struggled with this situation until I finally said, “just hire a geriatric care manager to help you!” He found a local social worker, Barbara, and hired her to visit his uncle and take him to medical appointments. That small but significant act has made all the difference in both his uncle’s and his life. Before Barbara came, his uncle routinely missed his medical appointments. Now my husband worries a lot less about his uncle’s health and well being because Barbara is another set of eyes and ears to help him manage his uncle’s care.
What about the cost? His uncle is low income and geriatric care managers are not inexpensive. When the money was tight, my husband worked with Barbara to figure out which visits were critical and which they could forego. Whether they use her services once a week or once every two months, just knowing that there is someone there who can take care of something important, quickly and in-person, is a huge relief.
Geriatric care managers perform assessments, manage medical care, arrange for home health care, coach and support the family, and much more. In fact, “coach” is a good metaphor for what the geriatric care manager does because caring for a senior is a team effort. The team may include family members, medical providers, home care providers, financial advisor, attorney, accountant, a daily money manager, and hopefully, a geriatric care manager helping the team to work well together.
As daily money managers, whenever we work with a senior client, we are grateful when there is a geriatric care manager in place. This allows us to be an extra set of eyes and ears for her and to let her know if we notice anything unusual about the client or his surroundings. It also allows us to focus on the financial affairs while the geriatric care manager and others focus on the medical and social aspects of care.
If you are a senior, wondering about your options for places to live, doctors to see, home health aides to hire and more, a geriatric care manager is a great source of information. If you are a family member struggling to manage your life and the care of your senior relative, a geriatric care manager is a gift.
There are myriad services available for seniors, but for my money, hiring a geriatric care manager is one of the best investments you can make in aging well. Find a qualified geriatric care manager at the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, www.caremanager.org.
Give yourself and your family the gift of geriatric care management.
This post is dedicated to the memory of Debra Levy, a fine geriatric care manager who, with her dedicated staff at Debra Levy Eldercare, cared for and made a difference in the lives of thousands of seniors and their families.