Having a knowledgeable ally when caring for an aging parent can keep the entire family from becoming overwhelmed. A geriatric care manager can help aging family members stay in their homes comfortably and safely for a longer period of time. And, who doesn’t want to be able to be home for the holidays?— Stephne Lencioni, Licensed clinical Social Worker in the Los Altos, California Town Crier
Today’s column has two major points: What is a GCM (Geriatric Care Manager” and who needs one? And the second, the truth of the old saying, “Penny wise and pound foolish” and its application to elder care.
The GCM Web Site gives us a definition as follows: A Geriatric Care Manager is a health and human services specialist who acts as a guide and advocate for families who are caring for older relatives or disabled adults. The Geriatric Care Manager is educated and experienced in any of several fields related to care management, including, but not limited to nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care.
Geriatric Care Managers are able to address a broad range of issues related to the well-being of their client. They also have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in their communities.
A recent Senior Moments column about dealing with siblings in the care of mom or dad, suggested families consider hiring a GCM as the “expert” and agreeing beforehand to take steps and move forward in the direction advised by the GCM. In that way, everyone can have confidence that mom or dad is receiving the best care and the family can move forward following the recommendations of a neutral third party – the GCM.
Linda Fodrini-Johnson, a columnist for the weekly community newspaper in Orinda, California, addressed these issues in a recent column (www.lamorindaweekly.com) discussing what to do when elderly parents resist all your suggestions. “Sometimes learning a different approach can make the difference in achieving the results you would like for your parents,” she writes. “Hire a Geriatric Care Manager to assist with transitions and supervise the quality of help.”
When you are considering whether you need the services of a GCM, you should evaluate whether you or any of your siblings have the time, inclination, or skills to manage the challenges of geriatric care by yourself. . Enlisting the support of other family members to consult a professional is a good way to build a consensus on the solutions.
Questions that you may wish to consider include: Are the problems that you or your loved ones are facing becoming larger and more complex than you can comfortably manage? Are other demands and responsibilities now so great that you are not able to provide the desired level of supervision and attention to your loved one’s problems?
Professional GCM services are offered in a variety of settings. Services including: Personalized and compassionate service that focuses on your loved ones’ wants and needs. There is a continuity of care management as the GCM coordinates communications between family members (if desired), doctors and other professionals, and service providers.
Let’s move on to the “penny wise and pound foolish” discussion. Yes, GCM professionals will charge an hourly rate or perhaps a fixed rate with a menu of services to you and your family. If you were a fly on the wall of our law office, and you saw first-hand the costs of inappropriate placements, duplication of services, unnecessary hospitalizations and how expensive it is to do it wrong the first time, you would understand as I do, the economy of using the services of an expert before rushing out to accomplish on your own something for which you have never been trained.
That moves me to interject the thought that avoiding spending lots of money incorrectly can also be avoided by consulting with an elder law attorney regarding a potential Medicaid application. Many senior facilities offer to submit the application at no cost to you Nice. Consider whether their first concern is to serve you and/or your elderly loved one? Or is their first concern to collect monies which the law may not require you, for one reason or another, to pay? In the office, trying to “fix” Medicaid applications submitted incorrectly can be a lot more costly to families than consulting the experts for advice at the beginning of the process.
At this time of year, GCM professionals, elder law attorneys and other elder care providers are dealing with the “wake up” calls for adult children who have been home for the holidays. These children may notice mom’s mail is unopened and unpaid bills are stacking up. Grooming standards may have changed. The refrigerator might be empty or filled with spoiled food. These and similar situations seem to call out for the services of a GCM who can assess the needs, create a plan of care and partner with the family for the best solutions and care.
There are many places to find a Geriatric Care Manager around Bowie and, truthfully, in the entire state of Maryland. GCMs that belong to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers are required to adhere to the organization’s Code of Ethics and Standards of practice. You can check those out at www.caremanager.org. You may also want to check with local agencies or hospitals to obtain a list of local referrals. Health professionals and elder law attorneys are other excellent referral sources.
Thank you for reading. Stay well. See you next week.