By Audrey Adelson
Caring for an elderly family member? Feeling overwhelmed by the increasing demands placed upon you as a caregiver? Are the issues becoming more complex and beyond your capabilities? Uncertain where to turn for help?
Geriatric care managers are real and they are available to help you. According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM), “a geriatric care manager is a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older relatives.” They are trained and experienced in a variety of areas related to care management, “including, but not limited to nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care.”
Geriatric care managers can offer many needed skills and resources to help caregivers of the elderly. Their main goal is to use their expertise to focus on identifying the needs of both the caregiver and the elder in a personalized and compassionate way. Good care managers try to make themselves easily accessible for both parties and pride themselves on helping do the “hard stuff.” They aim to assist with communication between family members, medical personnel and service providers. Their work helps contain costs and avoid unnecessary procedures and hospitalizations.
Care managers can assist in the assessment and planning of care for family members who live at a distance from their elderly relatives, as well as for those who live close by but are uncertain of how to access appropriate services. They can be hired for a single, particular task, such as helping you find a daily caregiver, or to manage the entire caregiving process.
According to NAPGCM, services a geriatric care manager often provides include:
Conduct care-planning assessments to identify problems and to provide solutions.
Screen, arrange, and monitor in-home help or other services, including assistance in hiring a qualified caregiver for home care.
Provide short- or long-term eldercare assistance for those engaged in local or long distance caregiving.
Review financial, legal, or medical issues and offer referrals to geriatric specialist.
Provide crisis intervention.
Act as a liaison to families at a distance, overseeing care, and quickly alerting families to problems - especially important when families are engaged in long distance caregiving for a loved one.
Assist with moving an older person to or from a retirement complex, assisted care home, or nursing home.
Provide consumer education and advocacy.
Offer eldercare counseling and support.
Depending on their credentials and experience, some geriatric care managers may also provide family or individual therapy, finance management, conservatorship or guardianship assistance, and/or caregiving services.
While private geriatric care management services can be costly at $50-$200 per hour (plus an initial in-depth assessment fee of upwards of $300), a great deal of your time and money can be saved in the long run by having quality assessments completed and credible recommendations made to meet their needs (and yours) by someone that truly knows what is available. Many people also hire care managers on an intermittent basis to help them manage care.
Most geriatric care management services are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, however, some insurance companies, health plans, and financial service providers are beginning to help cover some of the costs for their members. If a person has long-term care insurance and has met the qualifications to begin receiving payments, it would most likely help pay for care management.
Geriatric care management is also available in various other forms at lower to no expense through a community agency, local Area Agencies on Aging and to some extent through Emory’s Dependent Care Resource & Referral Provider, BrownRichards & Associates. BrownRichards has geriatric care managers on staff to help triage questions and provide free information and referral to employees that face adult care challenges. They can also assist employees looking to hire quality care mangers across the country. Last,most states offer a Medicaid waiver program that provides geriatric care management and in-home services for individuals 65 and older, which are eligible for both nursing home placement and Medicaid.
To learn more about geriatric case management:
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Atlanta Regional Commission
BrownRichards & Associates (Dependent Care Resource & Referral)
If you have questions about this article or resources available at Emory to assist with elder care, contact Audrey Adelson at (404) 727-1261.