Geriatric care management uses a whole-person, client-centric system to care for older people that face acute or chronic health issues. The process centers around an individual called the geriatric care manager. The manager’s job is to work with the patient, the patient’s family, all of the patient’s medical professionals, and relevant subordinates (such as pharmacies) to provide the best care possible.
The guidance of a geriatric care manager helps the family and physicians keep life optimistic and keep quality of life high for their patients. Geriatric care management is not strictly medical, however. Such managers are also often trained to deal with issues such as:
- Housing: Helping each family to determine whether their senior loved one would be best cared for in an assisted-living, residential facility, home care, or other environment.
- Home Care Services: Assisting each individual in finding the best possible homemakers and private in-home care services to meet their needs and budget.
- Entitlement Services: Providing help with Federal and state-level entitlements, both with filling out applications and by connecting family members to local programs.
- Medical Management: Such as ensuring open lines of communication between client, doctor, and family, and arranging proper monitoring of the client’s adherence to medical advice.
- Communication Management: Including advising the family, physicians, and other relevant individuals in the client’s life in the best way to stay on the same page about complex issues.
- Social Management: As in providing the client with adequate opportunities to engage in social, cultural, and recreational activities that bring him or her into contact with peers, friends, and family.
- Legal Consulting: Particularly insofar as the manager may give referrals to an elder law attorney and possibly provide an expert opinion to the court in matters of care.
- Financial Consulting: Such as overseeing bill payment, referring an accountant or wealth manager to help develop or protect an estate, or helping draft a Power of Attorney.
- Safety Consulting: Recommending tools to improve safety and security such as ‘panic button’ necklaces, Medic-Alert bracelets, and home modifications.
Geriatric care management, as you can see, involves a holistic approach to the care of the individual.
What Is the Purpose of Geriatric Care Management?
The goal of geriatric care management, writ simply, is to help each client attain their peak functional potential. In other words, it is to help them remain independent, self-actualized, capable, and feeling positive while also keeping them safe, cared-for, and healthy. This is something that all seniors deserve.
Who Can Use Geriatric Care Management?
The clear answer is anyone that qualifies as ‘geriatric’. Each care manager has their own areas of qualification and comfort; some may be willing to take on clients with a developmental disability such as Down’s Syndrome or Asperger’s Syndrome while others may not. Some may be familiar with the resources necessary to deal with physical disabilities while others may not. So while geriatric care as a whole can (and does) deal with seniors of all varieties, any single manager is likely to be more selective.
Do I/Does My Loved One Need Geriatric Care Management?
If you are currently acting as a caregiver for an aging family member and it is becoming too stressful to care for your elderly loved one and balance all the other pressures of your daily life, a geriatric care manager may be the answer. You may also find them helpful if:
- Your loved one has little or no other family support.
- You are new to the art of caregiving and unfamiliar with the resources at your disposal.
- Your loved one has multiple or complex medical and/or psychological issues.
- Your loved one lives in an environment that is not safe; be it because of people in their vicinity, or literal physical unsafety in the form of steps they have trouble navigating, furniture they cannot safely get into and out of, and so on.
- A family member of yours is burning themselves out caring for your loved one.
- Your family is fighting amongst themselves about how to best care for your loved one.
- Your loved one needs an advocate to help them deal with an untenable care situation.
- Your family needs help dealing with your loved one’s slide into dementia.
Where Can I Find a Geriatric Care Manager?
Geriatric care managers generally are not hard to find; your Area Agency on Aging will often have plentiful resources in this field. You can also check online at caremanager.org, the website of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers’ website, for a searchable directory of such managers. Finally, almost any gerontologist, elder care lawyer, or hospital should be familiar with at least one or two good options in your area.
Not every senior citizen will need geriatric care management during their lifetimes. But the ones who do will benefit enormously from having a skilled advocate, consultant, and expert working on their behalf to help them cope with the inevitable challenges they will face as they live out their golden years.