Over the years I have devoted a lot of space to talking about what a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) does. And that is because we as a profession have a long way to go before people know what we do as clearly as they know what a doctor, lawyer or accountant do. In this post, I am going to give two examples of when to call a Geriatric Care Manager, because unfortunately we often get the call later than we could. The call comes after a family crisis instead of before a crisis when we could have been the professionals who help avoid the crisis. Here are two examples of when…
The Big Fall. After age 65 approximately one in three older adults will take a fall, not just a stumble or a trip, but a fall where they hit the ground hard. Beyond the age of 80 the chances increase to fifty percent. As geriatric care managers, we certainly can be part of the team who helps your older loved one recover, rehabilitate and get safely back on their feet. Much of that process will be in the hand the medical providers who may repair the broken hip, arm or other bone. And the physical therapists will do a wonderful job of helping to rehabilitate your loved one back to full or nearly full recovery. What a GCM can help with is putting together the lifestyle recovery plan with the family. We assess not just the individual, but also the home in which they live. We help the family to get everything for the recovering loved one that they perhaps used to do for themselves. We also help to make home a safer place for getting about, eliminating further fall hazards and helping everyone to navigate the path to recovery. But, what if the family had called when they first noticed that their loved one’s gait had eroded from a stride to a shuffle, and what if the GCM had received the call to come by your loved one’s home and help make it safer for getting about and avoid the fall?
Dementia. Older adults fear losing their mental capacity more than they fear dying itself. As geriatric care managers we can certainly be called upon to counsel the family in how to manage a crisis once your older loved one has actually wandered away from home and given everyone the big scare. We can give family members by coaching in how to deflect instead of confront a confused older loved one during conversation. And much more. But we can be more effective if we get the call before your loved one has walked aimlessly into the night. We can help the family to make your loved one’s home safer against “breaking out” just as you would want security from burglars breaking in. There are also ways to sharpen mental acuity at the first signs of confusion through social engagement and other intellectually challenging therapies. Working toward social engagement in meaningful ways is a high priority.
The list is longer than just these two crises to which GCMs respond. How is your older loved one’s driving? How safe is home from fires? How safe is your older loved one from scam artists? Is your older loved one getting the best medical care and support for a chronic medical condition? and much more. I would be remiss if I did not also add where you can find a professional Geriatric Care Manager. There are a lot of people who offer services to “help older people,” but many lack training or certification. The best place to find a GCM is at the professional association’s web site. Click on the button that says: “Find a Care Manager” to locate a professional near you.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to info@cr eativecaremanagement.com.