Lets say your elderly mother lives in Florida in an assisted living facility. You and your siblings live in the Northeast. Your mother is comfortable where she is, but it's clear she isn’t getting all the help she needs. Moving her to a nursing home would be one solution, but you know she would be unhappy there. What to do?
A solution more and more people are turning to is to hire a geriatric care manager. These professionals can perform a number of services better than you can, making sure that your elder gets the care she needs, while relieving the anxiety of concerned family members. This article will provide some practical tips for hiring the right geriatric care manager, as well as learning what kind of services they can provide.
1. Does your geriatric care manager have the right credentials?
The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers has strict requirements for membership. Members must have a Masters degree in a relevant field like nursing or social work, supervised experience, and certain accreditations. Members of this association are usually a good bet.
2. Get referrals.
Asking for referrals from friends, assisted living facilities, and geriatricians is always a good idea - you can learn a lot from other people's experiences.
3. Look for relevant skills
If your elder has a lot of medical issues you might want to find a care manager with a nursing background. But if there are social issues, a social worker background might be more useful.
3. A consultation or an assessment
Most geriatric care managers charge by the hour or by the project. You could begin by arranging a consultation (typically $100-$200) to help you get started evaluating the care needed for your elder.
From there a geriatric care giver might provide you with a more detailed assessment. That will give you a baseline to see if the elder's current facility is the right place for him or her, plus a care plan for your elder. If a move is recommended, they can help you find a qualified facility that suits your loved one.
4. Care Manager as your elder's advocate
All elders need an advocate acting on their behalf. The care manager can be especially useful as an interface between the assisted living facility and family members. For example, is your loved one getting the right help with daily tasks, preferred recreation, and medical issues. So if you can't be there to oversee these mattes, the geriatric care manager can provide a valuable resource to help improve your elder's quality of life and care.
5. Flexible service as you need it
Some families use geriatric care managers to manage extra care help. For example, the elder might need help getting to meals, dressing, or bathing. Or they just might be lonely and need someone to visit with them. The care manager can hire those caregivers and in some cases even pay them.
6. Other useful resources
Geriatric care managers will be an extra expense that most insurance plans will not pay for. So if budget is an issue, look for free help where you can find it. The government's eldercarelocator.gov site is a fantastic resource.
Likewise Hospice is one of the most dedicated and professional resources available anywhere. Hospice provides an astonishing array of free services ranging from personal care to chaplains. The elder doesn't necessarily have to be near death to participate in Hospice programs either. Other government or non-profit services might also help - ask around to see what might be available.
For further reference:
New York Times article: "When Elder Care Problems Escalate, You Can Hire an Expert"