What is geriatric care management?

Professional geriatric care management integrates senior health and psychological care with other services seniors require, such as: home care services, nutritional services, and assistance with daily living activities. After a comprehensive initial assessment, a geriatric care manager will create a care plan that’s tailored to each individual’s circumstances.

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What do geriatric care managers do?

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 aging-related issues and elder care. Guidance includes:

  1. Assessment and monitoring
  2. Planning and problem-solving
  3. Education and advocacy
  4. Family caregiver coaching

Geriatric care managers use their expertise to assist seniors and their families with a variety of issues, including:

  1. Housing – helping families select appropriate level of housing or residential options
  2. Home care services – determining services that are right and assisting with engaging and monitoring those services
  3. Medical management – attending doctor appointments, facilitating communication between doctor, client, and family, and if appropriate, monitoring client’s adherence to medical orders and instructions
  4. Communication – keeping family members and professionals informed as to the well-being and changing needs of the senior
  5. Social activities – providing social, recreational, and cultural opportunities to enrich the quality of life
  6. Legal – consulting with elder law attorneys and providing expert opinion for courts in determining level of care
  7. Financial – overseeing bill paying or consulting with accountants or senior’s Power of Attorney
  8. Entitlements – providing information on federal and state entitlements and connecting families to local programs
  9. Safety and security – monitoring the senior at home; recommending technologies to enhance security or safety; and observing changes and potential risks of exploitation or abuse

How do you know if you need a geriatric care manager?

When caregiving for an aging family member becomes overwhelming, it may be time to contact a geriatric care manager. You may need a geriatric care manager if:

  1. The person you are caring for has limited or no family support
  2. Your family has just become involved with helping the individual and needs direction about available services
  3. The person you are caring for has multiple medical or psychological issues
  4. The person you are caring for is unable to live safely in his/her current environment
  5. Your family is either “burned out” or confused about care solutions
  6. Your family has a limited time and/or expertise in dealing with your loved ones’ chronic care needs
  7. Your family is at odds regarding care decisions
  8. The person you are caring for is not pleased with current care providers and requires advocacy
  9. The person you are caring for is confused about his/her own financial and/or legal situation
  10. Your family needs education and/or direction in dealing with behaviors associated with dementia

What are the benefits of using a geriatric care manager?

Professional geriatric care managers can serve the needs of their clients by providing:

  1. Personalized and compassionate service — focusing on the individual’s wants and needs
  2. Continuity of care management — communications are coordinated between family members, doctors, other professionals, and service providers
  3. Cost containment — inappropriate placements, duplication of services, and unnecessary hospitalizations are avoided
  4. Quality control – care management services follow the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers standards of practice and code of ethics

Also, most geriatric care managers are available to seniors and their families 24 hours a day, seven days a week with access to their cell phone number or answering service. The senior client usually knows the other members of the manager’s team — nurses they work with or their support staff — in case the senior has a question and can’t wait for the care manager to return a call.

How find a Geriatric Care Manager?

There are many places to find a geriatric care manager in your area. One place to start your search is the website of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM). You may also want to check with local healthcare professionals, hospitals and elder law attorneys.

Be sure to check the credentials of the care manager you are considering hiring to be sure they are a member of the NAPGCM, as well as a member in good standing of their basic professional organization, such as the National Association of Social Workers. They also should be certified by one of the certification boards.

How do I pay for the services of a Geriatric Care Manager?

Geriatric care management services are not covered by Medicaid, Medicare or most private health insurance policies. However, seniors may be able to bill some services to long-term care insurance, depending on individual case history. Most often, geriatric care management services are paid out of pocket by the client senior or their family. Some firms charge an initial assessment fee; others bill by the hour only. Some firms also require a retainer to cover the last month’s bill.