Did you know that there are approximately 34 million Americans who provide unpaid care to a loved one? Nearly half of those caregivers provide care to someone aged 75 years or older. The majority of caregivers are female and those who provide the most hours of care are on the older end of the age spectrum, averaging 51 years of age.
These statistics paint the picture of a demographic that is providing critical care to aging loved ones at a time of life that is busy with family and work responsibilities. When a family member becomes a caregiver for a loved one there are many questions and many pressures. It can be extremely difficult to care for a loved one, find the best physicians, schedule and transport the loved one to appointments, while also caring for one’s children and trying to keep one’s job. These caregivers need support to avoid burnout.
A geriatric care manager can lift some of the burdens of caregiving and help to manage the logistics of care. These professionals are trained to navigate the healthcare system and are well versed in insurance issues. They can save the family time and money when the right care is found quickly and insurance, financial and legal issue are handled appropriately. Here are three examples of how a geriatric care manager can support caregivers.
1. Assessing and planning care. Many geriatric care managers have a nursing and/or social work background. They know how to assess the type of care that a person needs and develop a Plan of Care. The care manager will then implement the care plan and make sure that it progresses appropriately. He or she will supervise care to make sure that it is delivered by the right physicians and specialists in a timely manner. For those with several chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, care can be complex. Medications can interact with one another. A professional who knows how to coordinate care among many different specialists can ensure that care proceeds appropriately so as to achieve the best outcomes for the person concerned.
2. Arranging for in-home care. A geriatric care manager knows how to arrange for in-home professional care. Once the care plan has been developed, it serves as the documentation necessary to arrange for in-home nurses, professional caregivers, and Medicaid or Medicare coverage for the services. It would take many hours for family caregivers to figure out how to navigate these complex systems. Geriatric care managers are experienced and understand how to properly document a care plan in order to find the appropriate care and interface with insurance companies in a detailed manner.
3. Mediate family difficulties. Caring for a loved one can be rife with difficulties. Not only is it taxing to care for an aging adult, but family members may not agree with one another about appropriate care, expenditure of resources, and responsibilities of family members, to name a few. Family disputes can interfere with the proper use of resources and sometimes interrupt care that is in the best interest of the aging loved one. Many geriatric care managers are trained mediators and they can help to mediate family disputes. They will create a dialogue among family members, mediate disputes to reach agreement, and get family members aligned with the best interests of the loved one in their care.
A geriatric care manager can provide invaluable resources to caregivers and their families. Their expertise can address the many logistical details involved in care so that the caregiver is free to spend quality time with their loved one. Having an expert on your side makes caregiving easier, less stressful and much more effective.