About Geriatric Care Managers

Understandably, many people who have just heard the term “Geriatric Care Manager” have questions.  Here are some of the ones I’ve heard most frequently (and some useful answers!):

The number one reason families seek a Geriatric Care Manager’s help is concern.

Perhaps an aging parent’s health is poor, or he/she is unable to perform activities of daily living as they once did.  Other times a recent event such as a hospitalization or fall causes concern and an adult daughter or son is unsure of how to best manage and be of help to his/her parent(s).

That is not to say that Geriatric Care Management services are not sought in caring for the well elderly – they are.  In fact, a Geriatric Care Manager’s assistance is ideally sought before there is a crisis so that recommendations can be made to prevent unnecessary injuries, falls or medical interventions.  Regardless of when assistance is sought, a Geriatric Care Manager’s primary objective is to restore and maintain the highest quality of life possible for the older adult.

When it comes to the cost of hiring a Geriatric Care Manager, fees vary.

Generally speaking, an initial assessment can range from $250 to $500 and lasts about two hours. Hourly rates for services thereafter can range from $60 to $175. How much Geriatric Care Managers in your area charge will depend upon your geographic location and the degree of experience and expertise of the particular Geriatric Care Manager.

A Geriatric Care Manager’s value

A good Geriatric Care Manager is able to see your parent as a whole person and objectively assesses the environment within which your parent functions. In other words, she’s looking at your aging parent through both wide and tight angle lenses. This is what enables her to create a plan of care that improves the whole picture…because she’s taking the whole picture into account!

Geriatric Care Managers know what to do with what they see and can save you time. Many are walking, talking encyclopedias when it comes to information about aging and about community resources in your parents’ area. To a family caregiver who is dizzy from trying to navigate the various systems on his or her own, a Geriatric Care Manager’s involvement can be a real lifesaver.

If you have long-term care insurance, check the fine print.

Some long-term care policies do cover some Geriatric Care Management services, but there may be some restrictions.  For instance, the insurance provider may only cover services provided by a Social Worker rather than a Nurse or vice versa.  Additionally, your particular policy may only afford a certain number of visits.

It’s also important to know that Geriatric Care Management services are not a covered benefit under Medicare or Medicaid/MediCal.

What makes a good Geriatric Care Manager?

In my humble opinion, the best Geriatric Care Managers are those who enjoy working with seniors (first and foremost!) and who have a mix of professional and personal experiences in doing so.

Education and training in geriatrics are also essential.  If someone calls themselves a Geriatric Care Manager but hasn’t sought out formal opportunities to learn more about the specific physical, emotional, social and financial issues facing seniors, a red flag would go up for me and should for you too.

Simply put, when I’m concerned about my car, I want it to be handled by someone who really knows cars; not the person who thinks he does because he hangs around the shop in his spare time, but the person who has acquired grease under his fingernails fixing problems like the ones I’ve got.

If you can’t afford a Geriatric Care Manager, you’re in good company!

Lots of reasons make this particular type of elder care service prohibitively expensive and there are some alternatives.

Start by calling Elder Care Locator at: 1-800-677-1116.

Elder Care Locator is a public service provided by the U.S. Administration on Aging and may be able to point you to low cost or even no cost options for care management services in your area.

Get in touch with me via e-mail and tell me about your situation.

I have considerable experience in assisting family caregivers and I hold all the same credentials as a Geriatric Care Manager and then some.  As a result, I may be able to provide you with feedback on the best next steps for you to take in managing your parents’ care.

Keep an eye open for low cost or no cost classes/calls and/or groups offered by the Geriatric Care Managers in your area.

This is a great way to learn about resources that you might be less obvious and to get tips from other adult daughters and sons who are coping with similar challenges.

Consider hiring a Geriatric Care Manager on a short-term or even one-time basis.

This is what I call the “good olive oil approach”.  If you know anything about olive oil you know that really good olive oil, just like the help of an expert Geriatric Care Manager, can be very expensive.  But by the same token, a little will also go a long way.

If you’re willing to consider spending some money to have a Geriatric Care Manager complete an initial assessment for you and provide a care plan, make doubly sure that you find the right person and prepare for the first assessment so that you can make the most of the time you pay for.

**************************************************

Would you like to begin your search for a Geriatric Care Manager in your area? If so, please check out the Geriatric Care Manager Directory!