How a Senior Care Manager Can Help Your Aging Relatives

It will happen to many of us, if we're lucky enough to see our parents into old age. It seems like one day Mom and/or Dad is hale and hearty, the next day they're not able to continue living in their home alone. Sometimes the change is necessitated by an illness or accident, sometimes simply by the cumulative effects of aging. At that point, there are a lot of decisions to be made. Some older people plan ahead for the day their lifestyle changes, but most of them need help making the change--and usually time is of the essence. When family members begin to search out services for a beloved elder, they quickly realize what an enormous task it is.

Most seniors want to continue life in safe, dignified surroundings that allow them to be as independent as possible and to maintain their health and self-esteem, but can be terrified to admit that they have come to the point where they need more help. Other family members may have different ideas and goals, and this can complicate the process. A good geriatric care manager (also called a senior care manager) can make this transition period much easier for everyone in the family. The GCM is a neutral party with specialized knowledge to help the family develop the best plan of action to meet the client's needs.

A partial list of ways a geriatric care manager can help an older adult and that person's family:

  • Home assessments; recommendation of appropriate renovations
  • Help locating and screening appropriate housing, personal care services, medical care or equipment
  • Lining up the right social services, such as Meals on Wheels
  • Nursing home or assisted living placement
  • Assistance with moving
  • Therapeutic counseling
  • Bill paying, errands, transportation, housekeeping
  • Planning for future care
  • Legal assistance

The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) has an excellent website that explains the role of the care manager and has a search function to help people find a NAPGCM member near them.  NAPGCM members must hold one of the four designated certifications: Care Manager Certified (CMC), Certified Case Manager (CCM), Certified Advanced Social Worker in Case Management (C-ASWCM), or Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM).

When selecting a care manager, ask what credentials, certifications and licenses the person holds, how long he or she has been practicing, and their areas of expertise. Some GCMs specialize, for example, in helping seniors with dementia. Be sure to ask what fees they charge.

A geriatric care manager makes everyone's life a little easier during a stressful time, helps the senior's wishes to be heard and met, ensures that the senior receives the best care possible, and allows family members to spend more time enjoying each other.

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