If helping an aging family member becomes overwhelming, stressful, or burdensome, it may be time to contact a geriatric care manager. But, if you’re not sure what a geriatric care manager is or does, it can be difficult to know if the service is worth it, and if it will meet your family’s needs.
Many of you have asked Iona’s Helpline questions about geriatric care management and how it can help you or a family member.
So, we asked Iona’s Care Management team, to respond with their thoughts.
What are geriatric care managers?
Geriatric care managers, also called Aging Life Care Professionals, coordinate care for older adults based on their individual needs.
They advocate on behalf of an older adult and/or their family in order to support the safety, integrity, and autonomy of the older adult, primarily through the recommendation and coordination of services.
They’re typically educated in social work, psychology, nursing, or gerontology. All of Iona’s geriatric care managers have master’s degrees in nursing or social work, are licensed by their professional boards, and have more than 10 years of experience working with older adults.
What do geriatric care managers do?
It depends on your needs. Geriatric care managers offer one-time comprehensive assessments, suggest next steps, and make referrals based on an older adult’s needs, wants, and resources. For example, a geriatric care manager can educate and assist clients by identifying cost-effective resources such as government benefits, in-home services, and housing options.
If preferred, geriatric care managers can put in place and monitor any needed services and report back updates or changes. They are problem-solvers, who you can run ideas by and contact on an as-needed or regular basis. As outside professionals, they can help mitigate the stress family members may feel as a relative ages and reduce the strain on familial relationships.
And, for those family members who live far away, geriatric care managers can be the local eyes and ears and be available when needs change. For example, they can help oversee medical emergencies and navigate the healthcare industry.
When should you call a geriatric care manager?
It is never too early to call! Many people don’t learn about geriatric care management services until a health crisis occurs. While that’s an appropriate time to contact a geriatric care manager, you might also consider calling when things are going well.
This is an ideal time because you and/or your family can learn what resources are available and the associated costs without the stress of an impending crisis. And, having a plan may prevent or delay a crisis and will definitely make navigating a crisis easier.
Other signs it may be time to call a geriatric care manager include:
- You or a relative want to plan for changes that occur with aging e.g. questions about house renovations, downsizing, long-term care coverage, in-home care options, etc.
- You notice a cognitive change in yourself or a relative e.g. trouble focusing, getting lost, not remembering to pay bills, etc.
- You notice a mobility change in yourself or a relative e.g. difficulty walking, getting out of chairs, driving, etc.
- You or a relative are repeatedly hospitalized over a short period of time
- Your family or friends have expressed a concern about you or a relative
- You don’t live locally and want reassurance that a relative is managing on their own
At Iona, we call our geriatric care management services, “Iona Care Management.” You can learn more about services offered and schedule an in-home, office, or phone consultation by calling (202) 895-9448.
Have another question about geriatric care management? Let us know in the comments!