What happens when a client is facing multiple challenges and needs expertise beyond your scope of practice? Here’s how a geriatric care manager can help:
Have you ever had an elderly client whose needs and challenges affect your ability to help but fall beyond your scope of practice?
Chances are, your gut reaction is to make a referral. But as you consider your professional network, you’re at a loss for which of your connections would be able to step in.
That’s only natural: we all gravitate toward others whose interests align in some way with our own. In our professional life, we tend to keep to our own “lanes,” interacting almost exclusively with those who have similar practices (and perhaps a few trusted others who naturally complement the work we do).
It may well be that the people in your “lane” are not the ones who can give your aging clients the type of help they need.
Who in Your Professional Network Can Help Aging Clients?
In scanning your network with an elderly client in mind, you may come up with one primary grouping of professionals, consisting of one or possibly more of the following categories:
1) Legal and financial advisors:
- Estate Planning Attorneys
- Elder Law Attorneys
- Tax Law Attorneys
- Financial Planners
- Investment Brokers
- Insurance Brokers
2) Medical and paramedical professionals:
- MDs – both Generalists and Specialists
- Home Health/Hospice Specialists
- Nursing Facility/Rehab Specialists
- Hospital Staff
- Medical Equipment Specialists
- Outpatient Service Providers
3) Psychological and social experts:
- Psychologists and Psychotherapists
- Social Workers
- Senior Living Staff
- Care Managers
- Senior Center Staff
- Enrichment Specialists
- Eligibility/Public Benefits Consultants
If you’re a tax attorney, when is the last time you referred a client to a psychology professional? Or if you’re an MD, when is the last time you gave a patient your accountant’s business card?
It probably hasn’t happened in a long while, if ever. Why? Because it can be uncomfortable to break out of your professional lane. Within your network, there’s a mutual understanding about procedures and best practices. When you reach out to a peer, you understand each other. In other words, you speak the same language.
This is where a special group of professionals trained to translate the complex needs of older adults into concrete terms and facilitate communication and collaboration among the legal/financial, medical, and psychological communities comes in.
How a Geriatric Care Manager Adds Value to Your Services
Over my thirty-plus years of working with families and their aging parents, I have seen again and again how credentialed geriatric care managers or Aging Life Care Professionals™ can serve as bridges between different professional groups. With their specialized training, skills, and experience, geriatric care managers prove invaluable in multiple ways—to elderly clients, to family caregivers, and to professional advisors alike.
To illustrate my point, let’s imagine you’re an attorney. Three adult siblings hire you to execute estate planning documents while their mother, who was recently diagnosed with dementia, still has the capacity. That’s a relatively straightforward legal request, but how do you respond when the children raise other issues relating to their mother’s condition? This family would certainly benefit from learning about:
- Social day care
- Support groups for families coping with dementia
- ID bracelets and other risk mitigation strategies
- Home safety inspections
- Driving resources
- Education resources
- Home care vs. dementia care facilities
Because you are not likely to have the know-how to help them navigate this landscape, incorporating the right geriatric care managers or Aging Life Care Professionals™ into your network will thus add immense value to your services. You’ll be able to respond smoothly and swiftly to whatever need your elderly clients may have. You will become a trusted source not only for your specific area of expertise but also, for helping make the connections that can make a powerful difference in all areas of a senior’s life.