Making Sure Your Voice Is Heard: Care Management

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grandmother seeking care giverMaintaining your identity and independence, as well as the right of self-determination, is crucial to most of us. Sometimes we lose our ability to be heard due to the illness, disease, or exhaustion that may accompany aging. A Geriatric Care Manager can serve as an important advocate.

Libby Dudish, an 84-year-old, never-married, former WAC, retired deputy director of the local U.S. Customs Office, and overall self-sufficient woman, experienced such a disaster. She knew she was not well and arrived at the ER of a local hospital. She was disoriented and unable to explain to the staff why she was there. Ultimately, she was admitted for care related to her delirium. Because the staff recognized that she could not care for herself, and there were no family members or caregivers present, they initiated guardianship proceedings.

What did this mean? The court would appoint a representative for Ms. Dudish, and she would no longer be able to make her own decisions concerning her living situation or financial status. Libby was about to lose her voice.

When she was discharged, Ms. Dudish moved to Brighton Gardens Assisted Living., Diane Schaefer with Schaefer + Associates, LLC, a Geriatric Care Management Firm, was hired to coordinate her care. Although Libby was restrained during their initial meeting, it seemed to Diane that she was cognitively aware. They discussed what had occurred and attempted to piece the situation together.

Diane contacted the Baltimore County Guardianship office and Libby’s court-appointed attorney to arrange a meeting on Libby’s behalf. All of the representatives agreed that appointing a guardian for Libby was unnecessary. However, since the ball was in motion, Libby and Diane had to prove to the court that she could and would care for herself. By working together, they were successful in preventing the court-appointed guardianship within five months.

While this was good news, they realized that they needed to take steps to prevent this situation from happening in the future, if Libby became ill again. Diane worked with Libby to identify people whom she trusted to make life and financial decisions on her behalf. Once they were identified, Diane contacted them to assure that they were willing and able to assume these responsibilities. After they agreed, Diane contacted the Law Office of M. Heather L. Wirth to prepare the necessary Power of Attorney document. Subsequent to Libby signing the appropriate documents, Diane arranged for her health care and financial agents to receive copies of the documents.

Now that Libby had her voice again, the two focused on other health issues that were preventing her from living independently. Following cataract surgery, Diane helped Libby plan for a move to an independent living apartment in a continuing care community where she lived for another year.

Libby Dudish was faced with a frightening scenario that is all too common for seniors. With no plans in place for guardianship and no paperwork outlining legal, financial, and healthcare wishes, seniors can often feel overwhelmed in a time of crisis. An experienced Geriatric Care Manager can help individuals like Libby find their voices-and make sure they are heard.

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