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May is National Geriatric Care Manager Month

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may-national-geriatric-care-manager-monthIt’s official.  May is National Geriatric Care Manager Month.  And that means now is a good time to share some perspective on just what a certified geriatric care manager is.  You would think that there is a boilerplate definition or description of what a care manager is, but my experience has taught me that a care manager is different for every family with whom we get involved.  Different, because every family’s needs are different, but there are a couple points that may shed some light.

A geriatric care manager is someone who works both inside and outside the “medical model.”  That is to say, you would not go to a care manager for your annual physical, a blood draw or one of the other typical things we go to a physician or other provider for.  But a geriatric care manager can take all that as information along with a lot of other inputs to assess a client’s health along with something many consider to be at least as important, and that is their “quality of life.”  A geriatric care manager then works with an older adult and their family or caregivers to recommend a plan to optimize quality of life and well-being.  I often refer to our job  as one in which we are “the option-makers for the decision-makers.”  This assessment and plan creation can be an ongoing process as a person’s needs change with time.

What I also find is that we are the people who can go along for the physician visit when caregivers may be working their day job, taking care of their children or simply be too far away to attend to those duties.  We are the eyes and ears for the family and caregivers when they cannot be present.  In fact, we often have referred to ourselves as “your sister in Chicago” or Evanston, or Naperville or Lake Forest…  You get the picture.  So, why sister?  According to both AARP and the MetLife Mature Market Institute, it usually is the woman who attends to family caregiving needs.  For women, the total lost wages owing to time off from work or taking leave for caregiving averages $142,693.  What family with caregiving duties would not benefit from having an extra sister on board?

And it is important to know that Geriatric Care Managers are certified by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM), an association formed in 1985 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families. Certified Geriatric Care Managers are professionals who have extensive training and experience working with older people, people with disabilities and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. They assist older adults who wish to remain in their homes, or can help families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of geriatric care management and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information or to access a nationwide directory of professional geriatric care managers, please visit www.caremanager.org

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case 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 ccbishop@creativecasemanagement.com.

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