What do geriatric care managers do?
Caring for a senior family member can be a challenge, especially if their health has suddenly declined or if independent living is no longer an option. Geriatric care managers can shoulder this challenge for families, offering valuable expertise and guidance on what to do next when it comes to senior care.
Geriatric care managers are senior care specialists and are knowledgeable in several areas relevant to the senior healthcare industry. That knowledge includes:
- Healthcare finances
- Housing options
- Health and disability
- Legal planning
- Resolving family conflicts
- Local resources
- Client advocacy
- Crisis intervention
With the above skills, these professionals can work with a large variety of senior clients and their families.
Why should seniors and their loved ones consider working with geriatric care managers?
There are several good reasons why families should look to geriatric care managers when it’s time to make healthcare decisions. For example:
They can evaluate, manage, monitor and coordinate
Seniors differ greatly in their healthcare needs, but some require extensive ongoing care. It can be overwhelming for their families to figure out the right approach to care, which often leads to poor care decisions and poor use of resources.
These professionals know what resources are available to a particular client, what types of care are likely to provide benefit and whether that care is being properly administered. They can also help families coordinate appointments, follow up with specialists and arrange transportation, if needed.
They are also familiar with senior housing
Many seniors choose to stay in their home, but many choose to move to an assisted living community for day-to-day assistance. Some seniors will require the expanded medical resources that come with a nursing home.
These professionals can help families determine which housing option is best for their loved one and find the best community once that decision is made. If aging in place is preferred, managers can help coordinate and monitor in-home care, so it is properly delivered.
They can work with their clients once, or in an ongoing manner
Some families only need help with a couple major care decisions and then can take it from there. Other families need their care manager to act as a “professional relative,” providing ongoing assistance with decision making and coordinating.
They can be there when family cannot
Senior loved ones may be located thousands of miles away, which makes attentive caretaking impossible. These managers can serve as a liaison for the family, ensuring their healthcare decisions are carried out, even when family can’t be there to make them.
They can help families plan for the long term
As seniors age, their healthcare needs change too, and geriatric care managers know this. As such, they can help clients form a long-term plan that makes future decision making much easier. This long-term planning also includes financial guidance, so families won’t be surprised by future healthcare costs.
They can be that objective expert that some families need
It’s not uncommon for families to disagree about how their senior family member should be cared for. This can lead to infighting that delays decisions or ensures they are never made. Geriatric care managers consider their senior client first and are trained to handle emotionally charged situations, so they can mediate effectively.
How can families find the right geriatric care managers for their loved one?
There are many benefits to working with these professionals, but like with any medical professional, it’s important to find a care manager your family can trust. To do this, there are a few things to ask about, including:
Licensing and experience
Geriatric care managers are not licensed at the state level, so there isn’t a catch-all license that proves their ability. However, they usually start their careers in healthcare or social work, so they should be licensed in one of these allied fields.
Further, the manager you choose should have experience working with seniors similar to your loved one. There are significant differences in how to approach a senior with mobility issues, and one suffering from dementia, for example. The right geriatric care manager will be able to apply their knowledge working with previous clients to your loved one’s situation.
Ideally, the care manager your family selects will have a history of working with senior-focused organizations. This working knowledge is essential to understanding what seniors need and want from their care providers.
In Texas, two such organizations are the Texas Guardianship Board and the Texas Assisted Living Association.
Your family’s geriatric care manager is going to be a critical communication link between healthcare provider and your loved one. It’s essential, then, that they are forthright and easy to communicate with. This is especially important if there are disagreements within the family about how to proceed with care.
Healthcare decisions are tough enough for the young and healthy – for seniors, it’s even harder, and making the right choice is paramount. Geriatric care managers help families determine what that best decision is, and create a plan to act on it.