How To Find Care Geriatric Management

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Find a Geriatric Care Manager

As the variety of services available to improve the lifestyles of the elderly and to help them to maintain their independence increases, retirement decisions for yourself or a loved one become increasingly complex. Many families are now turning to Geriatric Care Managers to help them navigate the maze of retirement living decisions.

What is a Geriatric Care Manager?
Geriatric care managers are professionals who have training in social work, nursing, counseling, and/or gerontology. Geriatric Care Managers offer customized advice and consultations to each of their clients, helping them to make decisions that are appropriate for them, their family, their lifestyle, and their future needs. They can help evaluate an elderly person’s physical, functional, and emotional state. They are enlisted to help elderly individuals and their families make difficult decisions concerning needed services and care. After consulting with the client and family, the care manager designs and may help to administer a “care plan,” which can be written or verbal and specifically outlines the necessary steps required to obtain the appropriate types and levels of care for the client.

What services can a Geriatric Care Manager provide?
Comprehensive Assessment
Utilizing their backgrounds and experience, geriatric care managers are able to perform an unbiased evaluation of the elderly client’s mental, physical, social, financial, and legal functioning. As objective and trained observers, it is easier for them to recognize situations that may be overlooked by loved ones; geriatric care managers are able to look at and analyze the whole picture.

Recommendations
After determining what types of services would be helpful for the well-being of the elderly individual, the GCM recommends providers as well. They routinely make recommendations for all levels are care, and are very familiar with industry standards, specialists, and even what types of facilities or services would work best for different personality types. These recommendations generally come in the form of the written or verbal “care plan.” It is important to note that recommendations from professional GCMs registered with the NAGCM (National Association of Geriatric Care Managers) are not dependent on commissions from facilities or providers, as these professionals are prohibited by their code of ethics and their standing as health care professionals from receiving any “kick-backs” or commissions.

Counseling
The counseling and explanations that GCMs can provide can help clients and their families to handle the emotional stress involved in making retirement decisions. One of the primary functions of this type of counseling is education. The GCM provides the family with information about the illness or challenge that the elder faces and the resources that are available to help. The goal of the GCM is, as Debra Levy, MSW, LCSW-C, CMC, a care manager and the editor of Inside GCM, the newsletter of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, points out, “to make the older person as independent as possible, to enable them to live with as much dignity as possible, while at the same time encouraging them and helping to maintain their safety, all while helping the entire family make a smooth transition”

Mediation
CMs can also help to negotiate family dynamics and differences, helping to sort out all of the various issues, problems, and concerns that have been brought to the surface due to the challenge of caring for a loved one. However, professional mediators are also available for seniors and their families in this area.

Follow-up Visits
GCMs are generally involved to varying degrees in the implementation of the care plan, depending upon the needs of the client and their family. However, there is always some degree of involvement, which generally includes follow-up visits to the elder’s home or facility a couple of times a week shortly after implementation and quarterly thereafter. Some clients are visited once a week for the duration of their services. GCMs really act as surrogate children, looking out for the client as if they were a family member. They become the eyes and ears for the elderly person. More than just a family member, they are an educated advocate, who can defend the senior with facilities, physicians, and other providers. Since elderly people are difficult to care for and the healthcare field is far from perfect, it is extremely important for elderly individuals to have an advocate. Follow up visits also allow the GCM to determine whether or not the current care services are working; they evaluate the elder’s hygiene, nutrition, medical status, and social interactions in order to determine whether or not the physical and psycho-social needs of the individual are being met and if a change in care is necessary. They also investigate complaints from the patient and/or the patient’s family.

Additional Services
Many GCMs can also offer help with daily money management, filing medical insurance claims, moving and downsizing, or even in-home care provided by an affiliated company.

*How do I know when I need a Geriatric Care Manager?*
The services of a Geriatric Care Manager can help you to negotiate the complicated web of retirement resources, enabling you to make decisions that are appropriate for you or your loved without causing undo stress to the family or the elder. Instead of waiting for a crisis situation, you may want to turn to a GCM earlier, so that there are more options available to you and your loved ones.

*How do I choose a Geriatric Care Manager?*
Like the process for choosing any other human services professional, your choice of a Geriatric Care Manager should take into account their professional standing and experience, as well as their personality and how comfortable they make the elder they will serve. Although there is no official licensee process for Geriatric Care Managers, the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers has established standards of quality and a code of ethics for GCMs; these standards as well as GCM referrals can be obtained at www.caremanager.org . The group represents care managers with professional degrees in human services, such as social work or nursing, and at least two years of experience with geriatric clients. The mid-Atlantic chapter of the NAPGCM serves Maryland, Virginia, and the DC Metro area specifically and can be contacted at www.gcmonline.org.

*How much will these services cost?*
The fees for a GCM range from $90 to $175 an hour. The average time required by a client is four hours. After spending a couple of hours completing a comprehensive evaluation of the client and their needs, the GCM then spends a few more hours researching options and discussing these options with the client and their family, helping them to take the necessary steps to implement the care plan.

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