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What’s Changed in Geriatric Care Management

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geriatric care manager as aging life care professionalBack in May I posted about how May used to be called National Geriatric Care Manager Month, but with a change in our association’s name it has become National Aging Life Care Professional Month. People have asked me what has changed, and I am reminded of a columnist here in Chicago who used to write for the Sun-Times, but switched over to the Chicago Tribune when the Sun-Times changed ownership. When people asked him what he changed with that move, Mike Royko replied, “My socks!”
Aside from the fact that “socks” are not my idea of a fashion statement, I would have to echo what Royko said those many years ago. Aging Life Care Professionals – you can still call us Geriatric Care Managers – still deal with the aging person and their families and the challenges of aging. I say families here, because almost invariably the person who gives us a call is the adult child of an older mother or father…or uncle or aunt…for whom they are a caregiver. And what weighs upon that caregiver most heavily is not just a medical diagnosis, but a quality of life issue. So we most often are focused on reducing the worry, stress and time the caregivers must take from their day jobs…or their family lives…or their personal lives.
So what does an Aging Life Care Professional actually do? The short answer is: Whatever it takes. But let me elaborate; it is the same as we formerly did under the label Geriatric Care Manager:
• Assess and Monitor-does the older loved one’s current home and their current capabilities work together, or are we seeing the kind of rehabilitation from a fall or illness that we should rightfully expect?
• Plan and Problem-Solve-if home is no longer a good fit for the older loved one’s capabilities, what can be done to make it so or what are the alternatives to the current environment, or if an older loved one’s medical condition is not responding to current treatment, what are the options?
• Educate and Advocate-when an older loved one does not feel they can ask their physician the important questions or when the living facility is not delivering appropriate care or service, who should be informed and who will stand up for that person?
• Coach Families-this is most families’ first time down the path of aging, and a professional with training and experience can help everyone find optimal solutions and facilitate the best outcomes.
• Option Making-and as I always tell our clients and our staff, we are not the decision-makers; we are the option-makers for the decision-makers.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Professional and 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@creativecaremanagement.com.

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