2004-02-19 / Savvy Senior


Dear Savvy Senior,


Can you tell me about geriatric care companies? My mother lives about 500 miles from me and her ability to live on her own is slipping. A friend of mom’s, who lives in her neighborhood, is helping me keep an eye on her but it’s not enough anymore. Mom’s friend has suggested I get a geriatric care manager to help us out, but I’m not sure what to do. Is this a good idea, and if so, how much does it cost and how do I go about finding a good care manager? Thanks for you help.

Care Managing Daughter

Dear Care, Getting a geriatric care manager is not a bad idea! With you living so far away, hiring a professional service that can oversee your mom’s longterm care might be a good solution. Here’s what you should know about geriatric care managers.

Geriatric Care Manager geriatric care manager (GCM) is a professional who specializes in assisting older people and their families in meeting their long-term care arrangements. GCM’s usually have training in gerontology, social work, nursing, or counseling. Depending on what you need, GCM can help:

• Conduct careplanning assessments to identify problems, eligibility for assistance, and need for services.

• Screen, arrange and monitor inhome help or other services.

• Review financial, legal, or medical issues and offer referrals to geriatric specialists to avoid future problems and conserve assets.

• Provide crisis intervention.

• Act as a liaison to families at a distance, making sure things are going well and alerting families to problems.

• Assist with moving an older person to or from a retirement complex, care home, or nursing home.

• Provide consumer education and advocacy.

• Offer counseling and support.

Some GCM’s also provide family or individual therapy, money management, and conservatorship or guardianship assistance. GCM’s also have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of services in the community.

Savvy Note: Some GCMs specialize in assessments and care consultation but don’t follow people on an ongoing basis.

Choosing A GCM Choose carefully! The field of geriatric care management is relatively unregulated and many people without specialized training can identify themselves as care managers, care coordinators or care advisors. So, it is wise to screen the candidates thoroughly to ensure that you’re working with a qualified professional. Here are some good questions to ask when you’re looking for a care manager:

• What are your professional credentials?

• Are you licensed in your profession?

• Are you a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers? .

• How long have you been providing care management services?

• What is your average response time to return calls from clients and their families?

• What is your method of communication: pager, cell phone, answering service or voice mail?

• How will you communicate information to me?

• Does your company also provide home care services?

• Are you available for emergencies, and how are after hour emergencies handled?

• What are the backup systems for covering vacations and days off.

• Will we be working with one or several GMCs?

• What are your fees? (these should be provided in writing to the responsible party prior to services starting)

• What are your references?

GCM Cost

Cost will vary depending on the scope of services you choose and where you live, but you can expect to spend between $200 and $350 for a client assessment and between $40 and $150 per hourly rate.

How To Find A GCM

There are several sources you can use to locate a good geriatric care manager, including:

• Area Aging Agency: Call the Elder Care Lo-cator at 1-800-677-1116 to get the phone number of your local aging agency.

• National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers: Visit their Web site at www. caremanager.org.

• Hospitals, senior centers, geriatric assessment centers and charitable organizations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association are all possible sources.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenionorg.

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