Role Grows for Geriatric Care Managers
Navigating Aging Challenges
Role Grows for Geriatric Care Managers
By Kimberly Bremer
The aging population is growing at an increased rate. According to the Administration on Aging, seniors (people 65 years or older) numbered 39.6 million in 2009 and represented 12.9% of the U.S. population – about one in every eight Americans. By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older people, more than twice the number from 2000.
With the increases come difficult challenges and complexities to deal with as a family member or trusted caretaker of an elder adult. These include physical and mental health decline, safety concerns, protection of financial resources and saving valuable time. Dealing with possible residential transitions and managing crisis situations also must be taken into account when offering senior care.
Seniors can safeguard themselves against a major incident by getting outside support and care earlier, whether that care is in a facility or through an in-home care program. The management of health issues is also easier and more cost-effective in the long term when care is more accessible. Care professionals, such as geriatric care managers (GCM), are advocates for each senior client through facilitating care, keeping track of meal times and the scheduling of medications and doctor visits.
Many caregivers today are adult children who may live far away from their parents or have severe demands on time with children of their own, along with a job and other stresses of daily life. Having a professional care program in place for a senior loved one can allow a person to take comfort in knowing that their loved one is being taken care of with customized care, treatment and advice.
A GCM conducts a thorough assessment to understand what the elder wants, what is needed and offers options to put support systems in place to keep them safe. If there is a question as to whether the client should be driving, the GCM can facilitate an evaluation. If assistance is needed with household chores, the GCM identifies the needed resources and holds providers accountable to deliver the expected services.
Sometimes a senior is not able to live at home any longer, though the GCM strives to keep the client at home as long as possible. The GCM can help with an alternate living situation – as all facilities are not created equal – by providing an objective list of questions to ask during facility tours. If desired, a GCM can even tour with the client and the family, as well as visit the client routinely in the facility to oversee care.
Eighty-four percent of seniors have two or more chronic health conditions. Approximately one-third of older adults take five or more medications daily and are more likely to experience adverse side effects. A GCM oversees the maintenance of an accurate medication record and also routinely reconciles the list with providers.
If the elder is hospitalized, the GCM can provide expertise. Problems often arise because the elder and family members “don’t know what they don’t know.” Some additional services the GCM may recommend include insurance claim reconciliation, bill payment services and the review of Medicare supplements for best coverage. A GCM may seek to verify what advanced directives the elder has in place to make sure their treatment decisions are followed, such as a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care.
From health and safety concerns to money and time issues, there are many challenges facing the aging adult. Having a GCM will help solve problems and address the issues of most concern, helping seniors and families understand available options and make the right decisions both now and for the future.
Author: Kimberly Bremer is the executive vice president at Alliance Home Health Care/Alliance Care Advisors. She can be contacted at (317) 581-1100 or www.alliancecareadvisors.net