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Also known as Geriatric Care Manager, Elder Care Manager or Aging Care Managers, a Care Manager represents a growing trend to help full time, employed family caregivers provide care for loved ones living close by or needing long-distance care. Care managers are also particularly useful in helping caregivers at home find the right services and cope with their burden.
Below is a partial list of what a care manager or Geriatric Care Manager might do:
Services from care managers should be something that every family takes advantage of, but in reality, very few families use care managers. Families just don't understand the value. Care managers could go a long way towards helping the family find better and more efficient ways of providing care for a loved one. The concept is simple. The family hires a professional adviser to act as a guide through the maze of long-term care services and providers. The care manager has been there many times. The family is experiencing it usually for the first time.
Hiring a care manager should be no different than hiring an attorney to help with legal problems or a CPA to help with tax problems. Most people don't attempt to solve legal problems on their own. And the use of professional tax advice can be an invaluable investment. The same is true of using a care manager.
Unfortunately, there are too few care managers and the public is so poorly informed about the valuable services of a care manager that help that could be provided goes lacking. Let's look at one example of how a care manager can assist the family.
Michelle is a single divorced mother with two teenage children. Her mother, Martha, has a stroke which apparently causes some memory loss as well as some disability in being able to fend for herself. Michelle decides to move in with her mother and take care of her. In return, Michelle who is temporarily out of work, has a place to live and share her mother's retirement income.
Martha is anything but easy to take care of. She has mood swings and often forgets what she is doing. She seems to display a lot of anger and takes it out on Michelle, calling her all kinds of horrible names. She is never happy and is constantly calling for attention. In trying to take care of her own children as well as her mother, Michelle is quickly being drained of her physical and emotional strength. In addition, Michelle's brother and two sisters are happy she is taking care of her mother since they are now absolved of the responsibility, but they treat Michelle terribly.
They also call her awful names and accuse her of being a "leech". On the other hand, they have plenty of advice on how to deal with their mother but never offer any of their own time to help. After all, they reason, Michelle is receiving benefits from caring for her mother and logically she should be responsible for all the care.
On the advice of a friend, Michelle hires a care manager, Brent Smith, who comes highly recommended in solving family disputes. Brent is a licensed mediator. Brent first does a care assessment of Martha and comes away suspecting there is more to her personality disorder than a stroke. He makes arrangements to take Martha to a geriatric physician who does a complete physical examination and recognizes that Martha's mental state is due more to improper medications and severe depression. Martha's medications are reduced and changed, and she is put on antidepressants. In addition, her diet is upgraded, she is to receive more fluids, more healthy foods and especially receive vitamin supplements. Particularly important is a prescription for vitamin B12 shots.
The doctor insists on as much exercise as Martha can handle. Brent, the care manager, helps convince Martha of the need for her new care program and helps oversee her following through on the exercise program. Over the ensuing months Martha's lack of memory and abusive behavior become less severe. She is also better able to care for herself without Michelle's assistance.
In addition to the assessment, one of the first things Brent does is to contact Michelle's older brother who is the family leader. He has a long talk with her brother and gives the brother a different perspective on the issues. With a better understanding of the situation, the brother calls a family meeting and Brent mediates a successful resolution of the family mistreatment of Michelle and the ensuing bad feelings. Everyone including Michelle is called upon to do their part in managing the care of her mother and to work on better family relations. The issue of Michelle "sponging" off her mother is addressed and an adequate solution is agreed to by all. Brent will follow up in a month to make sure everyone is following through on his or her commitment. On Brent's advice, the family signs an eldercare agreement and Brent agrees to remind the family over the ensuing months of their commitments on this agreement.
As with hiring a paid provider to come into the home, hiring a care manager is a similar situation. For those who desire to remain in the home the care manager can help make that a reality and keep the care-recipient away from a premature admittance into a care facility.
But the care manager can also help in the other direction. Oftentimes the family is attempting to keep a loved one at home when that is not the best situation. For many and various reasons care in the home may be impossible. For example, consider the family where all family members are employed full time and both mom and dad need intensive care at home. There is also not enough money to pay for formal caregivers to come into the home for the number of hours that are needed. In an attempt to cover the situation, the family trades off taking care of mom and dad in the morning and in the evening and on weekends. But they simply can't attend properly to the needs.
A care manager may have a better perspective of the situation. In this case an assisted living facility would be a much better choice. If there is not enough money, then a Medicaid facility may be the only choice.
Or take the example of an individual who has Alzheimer's and has become difficult to manage. It just may not be possible for a caregiver in the home to deal with it. But because of stubbornness or lack of proper judgment the caregiver is trying to cope. Again, a care manager can offer a more objective viewpoint and recommend a different care environment.
Care managers can charge anywhere from $75.00 an hour to $ $200.00 an hour. Or they may charge a flat fee for a care assessment and plan. It is important to check out the background of the care manager for the situation you are trying to solve. For example, if it is a family dispute, a care manager with a background of mediation would be best. If it is a matter of proper medical treatment, a care manager with a background of geriatric nursing would be valuable.
The cost of a care manager is shouldered by the family. Long-term care insurance may also cover the cost of a care assessment. Many policies will pay $250.00 to $300.00 for a care assessment. Policy language usually refers to this as care coordination.