As the number of seniors over the age of 65 continues to grow, the demand for professionals specializing in geriatrics has also increased. Geriatric care managers, also known as aging life managers, have been around for several decades, providing vital assistance to caregivers and their aging loved ones. We explore who geriatric care managers are and the types of services they provide in this blog.
What is a Geriatric Care Manager?
Geriatric care managers are usually licensed healthcare professionals – such as a nurse or a social worker – who specialize in caring for older adults. It may be helpful to think of geriatric care managers as sherpas – professional guides who are equipped to identify needs and can direct caregivers to available resources. They can be especially helpful for those who are new to caregiving, or for families who are navigating a serious health diagnosis.
Geriatric care managers provide a range of services – from an in-depth consultation to on-going support. They typically charge by the hour; however, most insurance plans including Medicare, do not cover the cost.
Ways That a Geriatric Care Manager Can Help Your Family
Following are some common scenarios where geriatric care managers can provide assistance.
Assessing needs. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your loved one is having difficulty with chores around the home. A geriatric care manager can conduct a thorough assessment and develop an individualized care plan to meet your loved one’s needs. If needed, they can also help you find, evaluate, and manage in-home care personnel.
Handling difficult topics. Perhaps you’ve realized that it is no longer safe for your loved one to drive. Fears over the loss of independence combined with concerns about arranging transportation can make discussions with your loved one tense and uncomfortable. Geriatric care managers can help caregivers navigate these types of difficult discussions, offering practical suggestions while helping both sides to communicate effectively.
Long-distance caregiving. If you don’t live close to your loved one, a geriatric care manager can be an invaluable member of your caregiving team. Based on your loved one’s needs, they can manage medical appointments, arrange transportation, and identify resources that might be beneficial. In addition, geriatric care managers can conduct regular wellness checks to ensure your loved one’s needs are still being met.
Answering questions. Caregiving comes with a lot of questions. Why is my loved one being prescribed that medication? What does this diagnosis mean? How can I help maintain my loved one’s independence, while ensuring their needs are met? Geriatric care managers are someone caregivers can turn to with questions about their loved one’s wellbeing.
Respite. Burnout is a real concern for caregivers, which can negatively impact your physical and mental health if not addressed. Geriatric care managers can help caregivers find respite care – providing them with the opportunity to rest and recharge.
Finding a Geriatric Care Manager
You can find a geriatric care manager in your area by using the Eldercare Locator. Here are a few questions to ask when conducting your search:
- What type of certifications do you have? Note: state licensure for geriatric care managers does not exist, but certifications are available either through the Commission for Case Manager Certification or the National Academy of Certified Case Managers.
- What type of services do you provide? As noted above, geriatric care managers offer a wide range of services. You’ll want to select a provider that fits your family’s needs both now and in the future.
- What is your fee structure? While most geriatric care managers charge hourly, you will want to know in advance if the initial consultation is a separate fee and if all services provided are included in the hourly rate. Request the costs in writing and ask questions if you need clarification.
- What is your preferred method of communication? Can you expect phone calls or in-depth emails regarding your loved one? How often will you be updated? Communication is essential to any relationship, so make sure that you are comfortable with the type and frequency of communication before proceeding.
Additional Caregiver Resources
For additional caregiving tips and resources, visit The Bristal’s blog.