Understanding Geriatric Care Management

As we live longer, many families are faced with the devastating problem of how to best care for an aging family member who can no longer live alone and needs constant care. Determining quality care and the setting that will offer the best possible quality of life for their loved one is fast becoming a major stressor to the American family. This is especially true for families faced with care needs and quality of life for Alzheimer’s or related dementia.

People are relying on specially trained and qualified professional Geriatric Care Managers (GCMs) to assist older persons and their families in meeting their day-to-day and long-term care needs. Most Geriatric Care Managers have training from bachelor degrees to multiple doctorates in gerontology, social work, psychology, and Nursing (RN Care Managers). Geriatric Care Managers, also known, as Elder Care Specialists are a newly recognized profession that is rapidly developing to help families adjust and cope with the challenges of an aging loved one.

Care Management services vary but their main purposes include empowering the consumer and increasing the consumer’s ability to 1) find, evaluate, coordinate and receive long-term care services, and 2) understand the qualifications and complete the paperwork for publicly funded services. Determining appropriate living arrangements and necessary supportive assistance including In-Home Care are among the many services they offer. Care managers provide needs and problem assessments, screening, arranging, and monitoring in-home care, counseling and support including family conflict mediation and crisis intervention. In addition they arrange for legal, financial, and medical services, evaluate housing options, and assist with relocating an older person to the most appropriate setting. They act as liaisons to families who are separated by long distances from their elderly loved ones making sure they are managing well, and alerting them to any concerns or problems that may arise. Geriatric Care Managers have extensive knowledge about the services and resources in their communities.

Care management costs vary too. Prices range from free, sliding scale or a range of $50 to $175 an hour for a care manager in private practice. Consumers must assume the responsibility of acting on their own behalf in using care management. Of particular importance is to understand the specific services each offers and to weigh the services with the manager’s qualifications and expertise. Training in gerontology is critical to the equation. For specialized needs like Alzheimer’s, a care manager should also offer families expertise on how dementia care differs from normal aging and how care settings differ in meeting these needs to ensure security, quality, and peace of mind.

For more information on geriatric care management, contact the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.