By Sealani B. Weiner, MSW, LISW, CSW
|How Can Someone Help a Person Who May Be Struggling Aging?|
|Questions to Ask When Hiring a Geriatric Care Manager|
Many times older relatives experience a slowing of some aspect of their lives – be it in the functional, or social, or mental realms. Perhaps they are having a hard time making it up the steps everyday, getting out of the house more than once a week, or being confused about the simple data facts of the day (such as date, day of the week).
Not knowing the resources for elderly persons can be worrisome. Development of a plan is not interfering, but rather proactive and necessary. Communicating concerns is vital to the health and welfare of elderly family members.
A geriatric care manager can be of great service. According to the National Institute on Aging, geriatric care managers are professionals who have multidisciplinary insight into key medical, functional and social issues important to the care of older individuals with complex medical and social problems. Just as one might go to a lawyer to draw up a will, or an accountant to prepare taxes, there are professionals who are skilled in the art of comprehensive assessment of seniors in their diversity of circumstances, have a broad knowledge of the range and variety of resources locally, are trained in counseling and crisis intervention skills, and are able to make all this information practical in action.
When seeking support from a geriatric care manager, find someone who belongs to the Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, as well as the National Association of Social Workers. Not all geriatric care managers are social workers, but as they are trained in support, resource development, advocacy and counseling, they are the ideal professionals to be providing geriatric care services. When looking for a geriatric care manager, find someone who knows the area in which the elderly person lives.
As the job of the geriatric care manager is not just to support the “senior”, but to also give familial and friend support, meet with the care manager to discuss the next steps to take. A good geriatric care manager will make sure there is support, education, and advocacy. A good geriatric care manager will be available when needed, meaning they are schooled in crisis intervention. A good geriatric care manager will bring tools and strategies on how to deal with the situation. And a good geriatric care manager is compassionate.
Be aware though that hiring a geriatric care manager can be expensive. Occasionally, a long term insurance plan may help pay for geriatric care services, but generally, payment will be out of pocket. Many times, however, only one or two sessions may be needed to resolve a situation.
Geriatric care managers can be especially helpful in situations where an aging loved one lives far away. They can be your eyes and ears, and most helpfully, they can be the planner when it comes time to either get help in the home, or when relocating a loved one to a facility where the he or she will receive more support.
The Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers maintains a Web site where one can identify a geriatric care manager by zip code. Geriatric care managers are familiar with working with each other to accomplish tasks for their clients.
The Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers recommends asking specific questions when hiring a geriatric care manager.
- What are your professional credentials?
- Are you licensed in your profession?
- Are you a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers?
- How long have you been providing care management services?
- Are you available for emergencies?
- Does your company also provide home care services?
- How do you communicate information to me?
- What are your fees? (These should be provided to the consumer/responsible party in writing prior to rendering services)
- Can you provide me with references?
Some geriatric care managers provide written information, make recommendations of books to read, or groups in which to get involved, and advise on agencies or companies that can give support. The key is the provision of comprehensive services. On all levels – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, utilizing a geriatric care manager can bring peace of mind to all parties concerned.
Sometimes, in order to have tranquility, attend to those practical matters in life. Allow a professional geriatric care manager to assist on that journey.