The Mindful Caregiver –

Geriatric Care Managers: What they Do and How they Can Help in Caring for Your Elder Family Member

By Nancy Krisman | LCSW

Over the years, I have found many caregivers often to wait to until a crisis before they reach out for professional help with their elder family member. For example, all is well until your father has a sudden stroke, or your mother falls and breaks a hip. Finding the appropriate resources and professionals in a crisis can be quite the challenge.

Nancy Kriseman LCSW

Caregivers may be hesitant to seek professional help for many reasons. Despite advanced age, your elder loved one may be in relatively good health; as a caregiver, you believe you can manage on your own and don’t need help; you can’t afford help for your family members or don’t want to pay for it; or your elder family member is resisting help. Hopefully, this article will help by explaining what geriatric care management is and how geriatric managers can help.

Geriatric care management refers to the process of assessing, coordinating and helping plan the care for your elder family member. Care management is available for elders living at home or those who might be in a facility. The focus is to ensure that your elder family member receives the best possible care.

Geriatric Care Managers” (GCMs) are the professionals who provide this type of service.  GCMs come from many different backgrounds and have a variety of different experiences. Some may be registered nurses, licensed clinical social workers, or other licensed health professionals. Others may use the term, but do not have professional training or licensure. Keep in mind that the geriatric care field is burgeoning, so as a result, there are a number of “professionals” and companies that offer management services. A person can easily find a “certificate program,” that for a fee will “certify” or provide a “credential.”  Unfortunately, it truly is a buyer beware environment.

Assessing a Geriatric Manager

Finding out the backgrounds and experience of a GCM can be critical to ensuring your loved one receives the best possible care. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What are your qualifications? What degrees to do you have?  What is your degree?  Is it at the bachelors, masters or doctoral level?
  • Do you have a professional degree which meets certain credentials in order to be licensed by the state?  And are you licensed by the state?
  • How long have you been working as a geriatric care professional? Can you describe your work?
  • What services does your company provide?  What services are not provided?
  • Where you are physically located? (some care professionals may live in other states from where your elder family member lives)
  • What do you charge for your services?  How are the fees determined? Do you charge hourly?
  • If you don’t charge for your services, do you get compensated by a referral fee from facilities in which you refer?
  • What types of cases have you worked on?  Can you describe how that is similar to my situation?
  • What do you look for when you visit the places you refer elders to? When was the last time you visited this facility? What have you done to ensure you are familiar with facilities in this location?
  • Why is the facility or service you are recommending a good match for my family member?
  • Have you ever worked with an elder who is resistant to moving or to having home care brought into the home?  How did you manage the situation?
  • What else would you recommend that I consider when placing my loved one?

 

How Geriatric Care Managers Can Be Helpful

I often share with caregivers that the most courageous thing they can do is be mindful of what of what they can and can’t do. Many caregivers do not have the skills to properly care for their elder loved one, or may not have the time, physical and emotional energy either.  So how can a GCM be helpful?

  • They have the skills and training to evaluate your elder loved one with an objective and professional set of eyes
  • They help can set priorities so you can develop a short and long term care plan
  • They are able to provide solutions and ideas that you might not have thought of.
  • Geriatric care professionals with a social work or counseling background may be more helpful in working with more complicated situations, such as; elders who are resistant to help, family situations in which there is conflict.
  • They have taken the time to develop elder care relationships and vet out many of the professionals, services and facilities in which you may be referred.
  • They can help you develop realistic expectations, set limits, and help you not feel so overwhelmed!

 

Over the years, many caregivers share how grateful they are that they hired a geriatric professional who helped them navigate their caregiving journey. With that help, they often report it came with less stress and more ease.

 

Nancy Kriseman is an author and licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with older people and their families.  This column is about helping families make the best decisions possible and be proactive when supporting and caring for elder family members. To contact Nancy, visit her website at www.nancykriseman.com, go to her Facebook page, or follow her on twitter @GeriatricMSW.