Geriatric-care managers come from a diversity of 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:
|•||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.
Change is one of the few certainties of caregiving, and experts advise caregivers to evaluate their situation early and often. Settle on a plan, but realize that circumstances are bound to change. Reassess your plan every few months if the situation is fairly stable, or from week to week if the outcome is unclear. As time goes on, you may need more assistance than you initially thought, such as additional help from family members or outside services. If possible, always keep a step or two ahead by asking experts for their best assessment of how the situation might change in another few weeks, months, or years.
Negotiating goals that everyone involved can embrace can help make necessary changes achievable. Elderly parents, for example, may long to continue living independently at home rather than move in with you or to a nursing home. With this in mind, what are the best ways to improve their daily life and enhance their abilities? How can you best support their independence? What care or services will they need to meet these goals?
Changes may be more palatable if they make it possible for a person to stay in a well-loved home or return to it after hospitalization. One option might be hiring someone for three to four hours a day to help an older parent or relative get going in the morning and remind him or her to take medications. Alternatively, you might only need to check in frequently and set certain services in place, such as yard work and snow shoveling, bill paying, grocery shopping, or delivery of hot meals. Or you might need to consider how to make the bathroom or other parts of the home more accessible to enhance the person’s mobility.