With one out of every four American families caring for an older adult, the need for the Geriatric Care Manager has proliferated. As a growing professional group, Geriatric Care Managers consist of nurses, social workers, psychologists and human service employees.
Many families have benefited from the services of geriatric care managers. Solutions for older adults with growing health care needs are the specialty of these professionals. Geriatric care managers often have training in nursing, social work, or gerontology, and they may be certified by a professional organization.
Often a geriatric care manager will begin with a home assessment. The next step is to create a care plan for the client that provides support and help for the caregiver, as well as referrals for local care options. Finally, the manager will implement and oversee the plan.
A geriatric care manager will probably do an interview with the senior first, with or without family members present. Sometimes family members will also want to discuss particular issues in a separate interview.
In the meeting with the senior, the care manager will ask questions about health, medications, nutrition, safety, memory, finances, and the general living situation. He or she will be forming a picture of the senior's specific situation, and generating ideas about how to respond to it.
To help with the assessment, family members may want to give the manager input. They often have pertinent information about the senior's health, memory issues, finances, or safety. The care manager uses this information, and his or her observations, to generate a care plan.
The care plan
A care plan includes the geriatric care manager's evaluation, recommendations, and referrals. He or she will explain the plan in detail. It will be prioritized, with urgent issues like taking medication properly first on the list, and other items addressed in order of importance.
Together, the manager and the family will decide how to best meet the senior's needs and improve his or her quality of life. The manager will bring professional knowledge and experience to the discussion, and family members will add personal knowledge and insight about their relative. Recommendations may change with discussion about how to implement the plan.
The manager will then make referrals for local care. This can range from occasional visits from home health aides through live-in help, to a long-term care facility. The manager will also arrange for future reassessments.
Implementing the plan
A geriatric care manager matches available services to the level of care a senior needs. He or she uses personal knowledge of particular local providers to choose the best help for the senior. Intimate knowledge of local providers is a great strength of geriatric care managers.
The manager oversees and coordinates the people who take care of seniors. For family members who do not live nearby, this provides assurance that their family member is being properly looked after, because the manager stays on top of the situation.
Once the plan is implemented, the geriatric care manager monitors it. He or she will not be in the home on a weekly basis, but will stay in touch with the care providers and the family. Thus, he or she will be aware of any changing circumstances.
When changes must be made, clients will again have the benefit of the manager's expertise, to continue to provide the best care. Often, the geriatric care manager is a guardian of the senior's independence, maintaining him or her in the least restrictive setting for as long as possible.
The job of a geriatric care manager is to work as a team with the senior client, the family, and the care providers. He or she coordinates their efforts, so the client receives the best possible care.
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