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What is A Geriatric Care Manager?

If you are a caregiver for a parent or loved one, you have probably heard the term “Geriatric Care Manager” but may not know exactly what one is. That’s because it’s a relatively new profession to enter the field of elder care.

Geriatric care managers are usually licensed nursing or social work professionals who specialize in geriatrics. They are hired by families to evaluate and assess the older adult’s needs and to coordinate care through community resources. Geriatric care managers are extremely helpful for families that live far away from their loved one or can no longer handle all the caregiving responsibilities themselves. They are “professional relatives” to the family.

The care manager typically holds the first meeting in the older adult’s home and it may last 1-2 hours. The family members should be present as the care manager assesses the living space. He/She may give recommendations for the client’s home that could improve their safety and independence. The care manager will ask about the loved one’s health needs and current caregiving structure.

After this evaluation, the geriatric care manager will develop a careplan for the family to follow that should identify problems, assess eligibility for assistance, and provide recommendations for local resources.

For some families, the care manager’s role ends at this point. For others, he or she remains involved to provide check in visits, accompany clients to physician appointments, and provide client and caregiving support and education. If necessary, the care manager can arrange and monitor in-home help and additional health and mental health services for your loved one.

Another benefit of working with a geriatric care giver, is he or she can help lead family discussions about sensitive subjects, such as financial matters, the importance of legal documents, the older adults’ driving ability, hygiene issues, and more. The care manager can also offer guidance in identifying alternative housing options — such as assisted living or nursing facilities — and aiding with that transition.

To find a Geriatric Care Manager near your loved one, visit the Eldercare Locator website at www.eldercare.gov or the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers at www.caremanager.org or ask your health care provider for a referral.

A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.