Healthbeat

Working with a geriatric-care manager

geriatric-care manager
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When you're exploring a foreign country, a guide who knows the terrain well can help immensely. That's just as true when entering the foreign territory of caregiving. Here, a geriatric-care manager can provide invaluable assistance for individuals and families facing challenging care decisions.

Geriatric-care managers come from diverse backgrounds, from nursing and social work to gerontology. These professionals can help navigate the tangles of family dynamics, round up medical care and necessary services, keep medical personnel on the same page, and cut through the baffling red tape of private businesses and government bureaucracies.

Some of the tasks geriatric-care managers routinely undertake include:

  • evaluating needs
  • connecting people to helpful services, senior housing, and long-term care facilities
  • bringing families together to discuss options supportively
  • hiring and monitoring home care personnel
  • communicating with specialists, hospital and home care staff, and family members to coordinate care
  • alerting families to financial, medical, or legal problems and suggesting ways to circumvent difficulties
  • helping with a move to assisted living, a nursing home, an Alzheimer's care unit, or other facilities.

Some geriatric-care specialists focus on assisting older people. Others have expertise coordinating care and services for people of all ages with disabilities or debilitating illnesses.

Although working with a geriatric-care manager may be costly, such expertise can often save money and regrets, especially if you are scrambling to arrange care from afar. The cost of a geriatric-care manager is usually borne by the client or family, rarely by long-term care insurance. If you plan to work with a geriatric-care manager, be sure to get a written agreement outlining the scope of services offered and costs. This document can also help you decide which tasks, if any, might be undertaken by family and friends to save money.

To learn more about geriatric-care managers, or to locate a geriatric-care manager, contact the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers at 520-881-8008 or www.caremanager.org.

For more on developing plans and effective strategies for the hard work of caregiving, buy Caregiver's Handbook, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.