Anyone who has joined the ranks of caregivers might compare the initiation experience to the challenge of finishing a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Finding the right fit, the right choice and provider of care you want for a loved one is time consuming, frustrating and requires commitment to what can be a very long process. Feeling comfortable and understanding your options will give you confidence in the choices you make for the people that depend on you.
There’s good news, though, for an increased number of American families who are working out the pieces of the care giving puzzle. This comes in the form of a geriatric care manager (GCM,) defined by the Alzheimer’s Association as a professional trained in nursing, social work, counseling and/or gerontology. A growing number of GCMs are available to assist you and your loved one in finding the resources, making decisions and managing stress. You might say they provide “one stop shopping” for senior care
An initial meeting with the “clients” or caregivers, the older adult, and any others involved in the decision-making process provides the basis for a plan of action. This is referred to as a “care plan,” and outlines steps needed to make decisions about the type of necessary care.
Here are some ways a GCM can assist you:
- Providing a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the older adult’s mental, physical, social, financial and legal functioning.
- Recommending a care plan which includes the assessment, recommendations, and referrals for local community options. They will explain the details of the plan, what led to the recommendations, and what you can expect.
- Arranging for services that are tailored to the needs identified in the care plan. Some of these are crisis intervention, counseling and support, education and advocacy, money management, referrals, decisions regarding appropriate housing options, assistance with moving an older person, advising families on power of attorney or guardianship issues, and serving as a liaison to families who are at a distance, making sure things are going well and alerting families to problems.
- Regularly monitoring needs after services and arrangement are in place. Frequent re-evaluations to make any necessary adjustments are also important, as well as monitoring any changes in the capabilities or functioning of your loved one.
For a list of questions to ask an independent Geriatric Care manager visit www.alzst.org and a listing of standards and GCM referrals may be obtained at www.caremanager.org.
To learn more about the resources available in your community contact Dana O’Donnell R.N., Director of Liberty at Home, at 215-643-6496.