Geriatric Care Managers Meet with Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to Improve Caregiving
Newswise – Leaders of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) met recently with senior governmental agency representatives and experts from health care advocacy organizations, providers of services and foundations to brainstorm ways to improve caregiving.
NAPGCM and NAELA representatives joined about 40 other opinion leaders at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Dec 10th Thought Leaders Conference on Caregiving in Washington D.C. Participants discussed ideas and strategies that could help shape public policy and a response to the increasing need for caregiving and the issues facing caregivers in the United States. From discussing the lack of financing for long-term care to the bias in favor of the existing institutional model for caregiving, the experts in attendance identified what they felt were the key issues impacting the industry.
“As the senior population grows, so does the demand for caregiving,” said Linda Aufderhaar, a professional geriatric care manager and NAPGCM Fellow and Past President in attendance. “We need to combine our resources to find new and innovative ways to provide these necessary services.”
The NAPGCM and NAELA representatives were selected by CMS based on their expertise and knowledge of caregiving as it relates to the problems of aging and people with disabilities.
“It was inspiring to see so many organizations come together to share ideas, all united by a mission to help protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Peter J. Strauss, a New York-based elder law attorney, law professor and NAELA Fellow. NAELA’s 2006 survey found that one quarter of Americans aged 35 and older had to make long term care arrangements for themselves or other elderly family members.
“Caregiver’s work is exhausting, it’s stressful, but it’s essential—and far too often, it goes unrecognized. Even caregivers themselves don’t always realize how critical their role is,” said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. “I bet if you asked any of one these individuals how they manage to meet the day-to-day needs of their loved ones, they’d look at you with surprise and say: ‘I’m her husband’ … ‘I’m his daughter’… ‘I’m their mother…it’s just what we do.’ ”
Government estimates are that nearly 45 million Americans – or one in five adults –provide unpaid care to a loved one valued at a staggering $306 billion each year. Other organizations say the number eclipses the total spending of $342 billion for the 2005 Medicare program.
In addition, many caregivers are likely unprepared for the task ahead. In a survey of members of NAPGCM and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), 63 percent of Sandwich Generation women (SGW — aged 35-64 years who parent and also have a living parent) were not prepared at all for care planning for a parent or other aging relative. The study, in conjunction with the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), asked members about their experiences in working with SGW — important since an estimated 59 to 75 percent of caregivers are women.
The conference participants agreed in principal on four specific areas of concern that require immediate focus: Transitions of Care (e.g. reconciliation of medications and care plans at each change in level of care and treatment), Budget and Financing (e.g. demonstrating and dealing with the adverse financial consequences of caregiving), Provider/Professional Education and Communication (e.g. Hospitals and other care settings working with caregivers) and Education and Communication with the caregiver (e.g. in the triad – physician/patient/caregivers).
This is not the first time NAELA and NAPGCM have participated in a CMS effort related to healthcare. In September, both associations were invited by CMS to participate in the launch of the federal organization’s new “Ask Medicare” Web site (www.medicare.gov/caregivers) program – which features insight from caregiving professionals as well as representatives of the healthcare industry.
Although spectators were not invited to attend the roundtable, CMS did tape the dialogue and will release it in a future Webcast.
NAPGCM was formed in 1984 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families in the United States. The association currently boasts a membership of over 2,100 care managers. Professional Geriatric Care Managers (PGCMs) are professionals who have extensive training and experience working with older people, people with disabilities and families who need assistance with care giving issues. They assist families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of geriatric care management and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information please visit www.caremanager.org.
Established in 1987, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations and others. Members of NAELA are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. The mission of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is to establish NAELA members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance and services to enhance the lives of people with special needs and people as they age. NAELA currently has nearly 5,000 members across the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.naela.org.