There are many things we prepare for in life, getting married, having kids, buying a home, retirement, etc. Unfortunately, most of us do not prepare for the day we notice that our parents, grandparents, or other aging loved one needs more help than before. They seem to be doing fine in some areas of their life, but you have concerns about others; it might be their driving, or how their home is kept, or their health is deteriorating. We are unsure if we should intervene, or if we do, we are not sure how much to get involved. Your loved one may welcome your help or they may not, in fact they may become defensive and push you away saying everything is just fine. You know at some level that this is not the full picture but you don’t know where to begin. You might not even live in the same area and don’t know what you don’t know.
Perhaps you are helping your aging family member(s) and are exhausted attending to their needs, your family needs, and when possible, your needs. You may or may not have siblings or other family members who could help but don’t or disagree with you on how to handle the evolving needs and changing conditions. Or worse yet, you are in the midst of a crisis situation.
Your stress mounts, you feel overwhelmed, confused, and unsure about what to do next, you don’t know what resources are out there, and/or how to handle the emotional challenges within the family system. Every family situation is unique.
A Geriatric Care Manager is an expert in geriatric care with specialties in social work, nursing and mental health. They work closely with each family to understand their specific situation.
Based on an assessment of the individual’s ability to function independently, their mental status, nutrition needs, medical conditions, financial resources, home safety, etc., the Geriatric Care Manager develops a customized care plan, identifying what is going well and which areas need to be attended to, including resources to support identified needs.
The senior and their families choose what areas they want or need help with from the care manager. These services include:
- Providing education, information and referral resources
- Monitoring medical conditions, coordination care and advocating for the client
- Coordinating and providing oversight of personal care and home health
- Providing assistance in addressing legal and financial issues
- Making recommendations and referrals for other needed services
- Making placement recommendations and facilitating the process
- Providing direction on guardianship or conservatorship
- Providing emotional support and mediating family dynamics
- Serving as back-up for family members when they are out of town
You can find a care manager in your area on the Aging Life Care Association website at www.aginglifecare.org.
This article was written by Dee Childers, MA, and owner of Life Changes Elder Care Consulting, LLC, 208-321-5567, www.lifechangeseldercare.com.
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