May is National Geriatric Care Manager Month, but I am thinking that most of you probably did not get the memo. You may have been following my blog – especially those with an older parent or loved one – and you know what it means to be a caregiver, but not as many may know what a geriatric care manager (GCM) is. Geriatric care managers are the people who work with caregivers to older parents who want time for their own families and confidence that their mom or dad will be well cared for. We also work with older adults who do not want to be a burden to their families as they navigate health care issues and make decisions about where and how they can live as independently as possible.
And a person does not have to really be a caregiver to seek the services of a geriatric care manager. We also work with professionals who want to get help for their aging clients when they have had a life-changing incident and wish to remain as independent as possible. These are professionals who want to help their clients maintain quality of life when life changes and coordinate the medical and other resources that make that happen.
I sum up what it is to be a geriatric care manager by describing the four activities where I am most involved in helping elders or others with special needs:
- Resource: GCMs make the home of a loved one who is aging in place more secure. We help show families what services can be brought to an elder’s home and at some point identify what are the best alternatives to home. And quite often with sandwich generation adult children of older adults, we can be there at a doctor’s appointment when they cannot be there.
- Counselor: GCMs help families to reach consensus about how to best care for mom or dad when there are so many options or in cases where it may seem that there are no good choices. We help caregivers to older adults or even spouses to sort out whether it is just tiredness or if it is depression or old age.
- Advocate: GCMs help to coordinate the care from multiple medical specialists who may be attending to an older adult and make sure they are all communicating with one another and with the caregiver. We also work to document a clear care plan the helps to preserve the life an older adult really wants, and we are the eyes and ears to look out for what is best for an elder if they are living in a senior community, assisted living or nursing home. We are particularly alert to any signs of abuse or exploitation.
- Friend: GCMs are also good listeners, because it can be really important that a caregiver have someone with whom they care share how hard it really is to reverse roles with the parent who had raised them from childhood. It helps for me to have been a caregiver, so I can personally and professionally empathize with what it is like.
For more information on geriatric care management visit Care Manager.
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 Charlotte Bishop.