When your loved one gets older, you might find yourself feeling quite unprepared for the changes you see and the decisions you might need to make.
Between determining the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, learning how to pick up on family caregiving responsibilities, and sometimes navigating the obstacles that come with Alzheimer’s disease, many family caregivers can find themselves simply unequipped for advocating for their aging loved one and make decisions regarding their health care.
This is when a geriatric care manager comes in. These professionals serve as guides and teachers, supporting both you and your older loved one for as long as you both need it. Are geriatric care management services for you? Let’s find out.
Geriatric care managers, sometimes called geriatric case managers, are eldercare professionals, often licensed nurses, counselors, or social workers who specialize in gerontology.
They are equipped to handle all aspects of the aging journey and can communicate on behalf of their clients and family members.
Geriatric care managers are beneficial for family members who live too far away to keep a daily eye on their senior loved one.
Having a geriatric care manager, or GCM, in your loved one’s area can give you access to local resources and support that you might not know about since you live far away.
Keeping track of health care reimbursement and enrollment dates is difficult for anyone, which makes having a geriatric care manager on call a relief.
Geriatric care managers can walk you through insurance options, offer suggestions and referrals for supplemental insurance plans and providers, and even help you apply for Medicare or Medicaid.
Geriatric care management services can include communicating on your behalf with your loved one’s home care team, including the caregivers who provide assistance with personal care tasks.
If you are unable to keep up with phone calls or emails regarding your loved one’s home care services, a GCM can take on that responsibility and give you the time and energy to support your loved one in other ways.
When your loved one moves into a senior living community, like an assisted living or memory care community, you can often take a deep breath and have some peace of mind that they are receiving the around-the-clock support they need to stay healthy.
However, you might not always be able to attend care plan meetings or coordinate their care with the senior care team.
A geriatric care manager can not only help you find a senior living community that suits your loved one’s needs, but they can also participate in care plan meetings and coordinate with the community’s social work team so that you can be sure your loved one is receiving personalized care.
Any time cognitive decline is a part of the conversation, having additional professional support is beneficial.
A geriatric care manager can tell you where to find local resources, candidly discuss the need for long-term care, and even lead difficult conversations about complex issues with your other family members so that everyone can be on the same page when it comes to your loved one and their care needs.
If any of the above statements resonate with you, or if you are just looking to have a senior care professional on your side as you care for your older loved one, a geriatric care manager could be the ideal member of your team.
A quick internet search can pull up a list of geriatric care managers near you. The Aging Life Care Association, or ALCA, also has a locator for family members who are seeking professional assistance.
However, you can also ask for referrals for aging life care professionals from your loved one’s physician. Most geriatric care managers work for an agency or own their own business, but they are also well-known to local hospitals and geriatricians.
Geriatric care services are typically billed out on an hourly basis, with average hourly costs ranging from $75 to more than $300. Some geriatric care managers bill a flat monthly fee for services as well.
Of course, all costs vary greatly based on location and the type of services required.
A geriatric care manager can assist with a variety of aging-related complex issues including:
You can begin advocacy for yourself and your loved one by finding a geriatric care manager who has experience with some of the details of your situation.
For example, if your loved one needs assistance with challenges related to Alzheimer’s disease, ensure the GCM has experience with cognitive decline.
Similarly, if your loved one is struggling with their home health services, make sure you find a GCM that has experience working with home health and in-home care agencies.
A senior care and caregiving expert. She worked in senior care for more than 15 years before writing for senior care agencies and professional caregivers full time. She has experience in Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living, Independent Living, and Memory Care as well as Adult Day services and home care.
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