It’s not something we like to think about, but as our parents and other loved ones age they will become less independent and begin to need long-term care. Care varies by situation. It could mean fulltime monitoring in an assisted living facility or be as simple as hiring a caregiver to help out with housekeeping, meals, and medicine. Regardless of the severity of care, there are a lot of options available with a variety of ways to pay for them. A care manager is oftentimes the best person to help families navigate the countless possibilities. Unfortunately, many people do not know what a care manager is and miss out on their invaluable aid.
What is a care manager?
A professional geriatric care manager is someone who has been educated in a variety of human services— psychology, nursing, social work, gerontology, etc. They are trained to plan, organize, monitor, and deliver services to the elderly and their families. There is a national association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers and care managers are certified by one of three organizations: the National Association of Social Workers, the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, or the Commission for Case Managers. Before hiring a care manager, check their background and make sure they belong to one of the three organizations mentioned. Also, care managers should be available whenever you need them and you should feel comfortable with this person. It’s a good idea to become familiar with other members of their agency just in case you can’t reach the care manager right away.
Rates vary by region with some agencies charging initial assessment fees while others charge solely by the hour. Admittedly, the main factor preventing most people from hiring a care manager is the cost. Services can range from $50.00/hour to $200.00/hour. Care management services are not generally covered by private insurance companies and are not covered by Medicaid or Medicare. Even though care managers do cost money, they also conversely help you save money. Using a geriatric care manager, for even a one-time assessment, can help lower your care expenses. They will help you plan ahead and avoid decisions that are either unnecessary or too expensive for the situation at hand.
When is the time to hire a care manager?
It’s best to hire a care manager when things with your elderly loved one are still going relatively well. If the senior is still living on his/her own, but your family starts noticing slight changes or the senior’s doctor has told you of a change in diagnosis, it might be time to call a care manager. They can help you prepare for changes and find all the resources available to you. Rather than becoming overwhelmed, a care manager can help you find: types of rehab (short-term or long-term), respite, home care services, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, how to access long-term care policies, how to pay for services, etc. Essentially, the care manager does just what their job title suggests, manages the care for your loved one. They help you plan ahead and with past cases under their belt, they’ll have a better idea of how your situation will likely turn out. Unless you’re savvy with the eldercare field, it is extremely relieving to have a care manager.
After we find care what can they help with?
Although many people hire care managers to assist with the process of finding care, care managers can still help after this stage is complete. Care managers can help coordinate medical aids, therapists, and other staff coming in and out of your loved one’s home. Moving from independence towards constant care is a pretty big change and according to a recent University of Michigan study, half of older adults need some type of help with activities of daily living. If your loved one has decided against receiving in-home care, a care manager can help with their move into an assisted living or group home facility. Moving is stressful, especially when the person moving suffers from ailing health. Also, if a family member has decided to become the full time caregiver, a care manager can assist them and ease the burden. If family members live out of town and moving closer to the senior in need is not a possibility, then a care manager is a near necessity. Regardless of whether you choose to use a care manager, it is good to know there are people out there who can help if your situation becomes too overwhelming.
Max Gottlieb is the content editor for Senior Planning in Phoenix, Arizona. Senior Planning provides free assistance to seniors, helping them apply for benefits and find a living situation that best fits their needs.