How a geriatric care manager can help your parents as they grow old

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Geriatric care means medical care related to older adults. A senior’s unique health care situation, rather than a particular age, determines whether they need geriatric care. Medical concerns for older adults — including chronic conditions more common with aging, immobility, impaired vision, cognitive decline, and inability to perform activities of daily living — are often different from the needs of others and therefore require specific treatment.

What is a geriatric care manager?

Geriatric care managers are licensed professionals — often nurses, social workers, or gerontologists — who specialize in managing senior care. They are sometimes called elder care managers or senior care managers. They can act as a “professional relative” and voice of neutrality, leading families through difficult, emotionally charged conversations. Geriatric care managers also help families and seniors identify areas of concern and work to create a senior care plan that helps bring seniors, family members, and caregivers peace of mind.

“We’re able to evaluate the client in all dimensions and tailor care to their individual needs,” says Suzanne Modigliani, a licensed social worker and member of the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) who has specialized in geriatrics for 25 years.

Elder care manager responsibilities

Geriatric care managers — sometimes called geriatric case managers, elder care managers, or aging life care professionals — are trained to find resources that make it easier for families to make hard decisions.

“There are eight core knowledge areas [elder care managers] have: crisis intervention, health and disability, financial, housing, legal, family, advocacy, and local resources,” says Anne Sansevero, an ALCA member and founder and CEO of HealthSense in New York.

Main geriatric care manager responsibilities include:

  • Assessing health needs. A geriatric care manager usually begins by conducting a comprehensive assessment of the senior’s health care needs. They’ll review the senior’s current medications and medical history. They’ll also determine the level of supervision the senior needs to stay safe and healthy.
  • Determining financial needs. Before recommending senior care options, a geriatric care manager will need to take into account your family’s ability to pay for senior care. If you find that senior care is more expensive than you previously thought, they can sometimes help you uncover previously unknown ways to pay.
  • Providing senior care options. Based on your senior’s needs assessment, an elder care manager can recommend the right senior care options. Geriatric care managers are often locally-based, and so may be able to refer you directly to senior care facilities or home care agencies. In rural areas, some geriatric care managers can offer online services.
  • Resolving family conflict. Sending a loved one to a senior care facility can be emotionally fraught. A geriatric care manager can provide unbiased and objective insight into the situation.
  • Connecting to resources. Senior care managers are experts in your local senior care resources. They can connect you with financial assistance, caregiver resources, and more in your area.
  • Creating a short-term and long-term care plan. A geriatric care manager can help you create a long-term and short-term plan to address your loved one’s changing needs. While plans do change, having them can give you peace of mind.
  • Coordination. A senior loved one often has a team of health care providers, legal advisors, senior care providers, and loved ones. An elder care advisor can help coordinate these moving pieces, especially during transitions.

Senior care management: a guide

When it comes to making senior care decisions for a parent or senior loved one, families may be intimidated by researching and trying to understand which services their loved one needs — and when they need them. This responsibility can be particularly challenging if your parent has a sudden, unexpected health emergency.

That’s where geriatric care managers can help. Experienced in senior care, they can devote time to learning about individual medical conditions and available resources. They can present a variety of options, helping families choose the plan that works best for their situation.

Geriatric care managers have no emotional connections or complicated family history to overcome. Their objectivity is valuable when it comes to navigating tough family conversations about the future of a senior loved one.

Questions to ask when hiring a geriatric care manager

Before hiring an elder care manager, find out:

  • If they have experience directly related to your loved one’s needs. For example, some geriatric care managers may specialize in dementia care while others know more about mobility issues or physical injuries
  • If they specialize in working through health crisis scenarios. If your parent is going through an emergency and you’re feeling overwhelmed, a care manager may help relieve stress
  • Whether they have care manager certification or any other professional licenses. Some of the most common ones are nursing, nursing home management, social work, or gerontology.
  • If they will provide a list of client references who can speak to their professional experience. Previous clients who are satisfied with the care manager’s services is a good sign that they will be able to help you.
  • Their fee structure and cost estimates, including for an initial assessment. A senior care manager should be upfront and clear about how much their services cost.

How much do geriatric care managers cost?

Most geriatric care managers charge by the hour, with fees ranging from about $75 to $200 an hour. Additionally, an initial assessment can cost hundreds of dollars. Providing a detailed history ahead of time can help assessment time be used more strategically, says Sansevero.

While some families hire a geriatric care manager for a one-time assessment, many choose to keep a care manager involved throughout the care process. Asking for approximations of time needed for specific services can help families estimate costs.

Most insurance plans won’t cover the cost of a geriatric care manager, and Medicare doesn’t pay for their services. Most families that hire a geriatric care manager do so at their own expense. However, if you have long-term care insurance, check to see if it will cover an initial assessment.

“Often the assessment may uncover unknown resources for funding care, or the services will help you navigate complex funding care options,” Sansevero says.

Get senior care management at no cost to you

Contact A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors to get guidance through the complex and sometimes confusing world of senior living. This service is free to seniors and their families. As regional representatives, they can help you locate a local senior living community in your specific area.

This article originally appeared on APlaceForMom and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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