Geriatric Care Managers Help Families with Challenges of Aging

Elder Care Issues

Geriatric Care Managers and MedicareFamilies often need help navigating the many services available for their loved ones.

Geriatric care managers are becoming a necessary resource for families that are caring for elderly loved ones. These professionals help families and other caregivers coordinate the care of elderly persons who have physical and/or mental impairments, helping them to meet their long terms care needs, improve their quality of life and maintain their independence for as long as possible.

Typically, geriatric care managers have prior extensive training in nursing, social work, gerontology or another health field and use this expertise to help manage, provide and refer various types of health and social care services. They serve as an advocate for their clients throughout the continuum of care.

For example, families tasked with managing the care of a loved one who has a chronic disease such as congestive heart failure or a form of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease often need help navigating the spectrum of services – including health, financial, and legal – available to them.

As the population ages, a greater percentage of Americans are turning to geriatric care management (also referred to as elder care management or senior health care management). The number of people age 65 and older will more than double between 2000 and 2030 to 70.3 million or 20 percent of the U.S. population; likewise, those 85 and older will rise two-fold, to 8.9 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Often these aging elders, many of whom will have at least one chronic condition, need some form of professional long term care. Historically, families often took care of an aging relative. Nowadays, however, families live farther apart and are juggling careers and their own children – factors that have paved the way for the use of professional services.

What geriatric care managers do:

  • Conduct care-planning assessments to identify needs, problems and eligibility for assistance
  • Screen, arrange, and monitor in-home help and other services
  • Review financial, legal, or medical issues
  • Offer referrals to specialists to avoid future problems and to conserve assets
  • Provide crisis intervention
  • Act as a liaison to families at a distance
  • Make sure things are going well and alert families of problems
  • Assist with moving their clients to or from a retirement complex, assisted living facility, rehabilitation, facility or nursing home
  • Provide client and family education and advocacy
  • Offer counseling and support

Experts recommend that families or health care providers who are interested in obtaining the services of a geriatric care manager do their research, interview several prospects to find the right fit, and make sure the person of choice is certified through a professional association, such as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.

Who uses the services:

It’s not just families turning to the expertise provided by geriatric care managers. Other professional occupations that are increasingly utilizing these services include banks and trust officers, physicians and allied health professionals, attorneys, hospitals, social service providers, gerontology professionals, and senior housing communities.

Costs

Rates for services vary depending on geographic location and the expertise of a particular geriatric care manager, however on average an initial assessment costs anywhere from $250 to $500 and lasts about two hours. Hourly rates for services thereafter can range from $60 to $175. Some long-term care insurance policies may cover the services of a geriatric care manager, but there may be restrictions so it’s important to check the fine print.