Published Articles

Geriatric Care Managers

Kari Buist-Baker, RN, CCM, BS, MCG, LNC

Your mother is in a nursing home getting poor care.  You don’t know where to turn, and everyone at the supposedly “excellent” nursing home just stared at you and shrugged their shoulders when you asked for, begged, and demanded a proper evaluation of your Mother’s cognitive status.  A very good friend suggested that you hire a professional Geriatric Care Manager who was then able to get your Mother an appointment with an excellent neurologist.  Your mother was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia and was started on the right medications.  The Geriatric Care Manager has since been with your mother every step of the way.

What Is A Geriatric Care and/or Case Manager?

Geriatric Care Managers (GCM) or ALC™ Professionals are health and human service specialists who assist older or disabled adults and their families resolve complex problems through consultations, and care coordination.  They have varied educational and professional backgrounds including nursing, social work, psychology, rehabilitation, family counseling, physical-occupational-speech therapy and gerontology.  They have expertise working with older adults and use an integrated and skilled approach to address the many issues required for a comprehensive geriatric assessment.

Their approach includes assessing a person’s functional level and impairments to identify existing needs and problems.  They address your loved one’s living situation, family, finances, health history, safety, nutritional status, memory, and environmental support capabilities.  They develop action plans to include short and long term goals for skilled or custodial home care, medication management, mediation of family concerns, communication with physicians and  health care professionals.

 Why Hire A Geriatric Care Manager?

  • When concerns go beyond your expertise and ability to help (be careful of denial on this one)!
  • There are multiple hospital, emergency room visits, or skilled nursing facility stays
  • If family disagrees on care needs and would benefit from unbiased information by mediation or a facilitator
  • When confused about options; need information about community or vetted resources services
  • If individual has little or no support from family members and /or living in another geographical area
  • If individual needs oversight of existing care and is feeling over-whelmed with navigating the healthcare system
  • When you feel the need for an advocate, a navigator, someone who cares and can hear your concerns while tailoring the specific care plan needs with the appropriate resources

How Will I Pay?

Services are billed privately on a fee-for -service basis.  Check with the Care/Case Manager as to whether or not a sliding scale fee can be established.  A Care/Case Manager can help outline the general cost of service in order to find the best way to provide affordable service for you and you loved ones. Your local senior center may have a professional care manager available at no charge.

 Please ask the following questions to assure the utmost of ethical and un-biased services for you and your loved one:

  • Do you participate in fee-splitting or obtaining referral fees from any party that you recommend? This would be an important indicator of a conflict-of-interest if the answer is yes.
  • How can you assure me that you are responsible, loyal and have the integrity to make unbiased recommendations based on your assessment?
  • What are the qualifications of the individual you are trusting to help you with your important life-aging decisions? Are they licensed, educated, certified, and experienced? Be sure to check their credentials.

Coordination with and agreement of family members is of utmost importance in developing the geriatric assessment.  The focus and fundamental loyalty is to the older and more vulnerable person who is the client.

Once Services Are in Place

Once services and arrangements are in place for your loved one, regular monitoring is important.  There may be re-evaluations to make any necessary adjustments.  The Geriatric Care Manager will monitor your loved ones’ capabilities focusing on well-being, safety and quality of life. They work to improve the quality of your loved one’s life as well as your own.

Kari Buist-Baker, RN, CCM, Gerontologist is the founder and CEO of Senior Life Management, Inc. www.seniorlifemgmt.com

For additional information contact:
Aging Life Care ™Association at www.caremanager.org
National Academy of Certified Care Managers at www.naccm.net
Orange County Caregiver Resource Center: caregiveroc.org

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