What is Care Management?
Care Management is a holistic, person-centered approach to caring for elderly and/or disabled adults. If you are a caregiver to an aging parent or spouse, or to a loved one with the following conditions: Parkinson’s disease, stroke, vascular dementia, memory-loss, Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia, MS, brain injury, chronic illness, or a physical or mental disability, a Geriatric Care Manager can identify ways to improve your loved ones quality of life, quality of care, and reduce your level of stress.
About Care Managers
Professional Care Managers, also known as Geriatric Care Managers, assist elderly and/or disabled adults in attaining their maximum functional potential. They are health and human services specialists with education, experience, and certification in the field of aging. Geriatric Care Managers lead families to take actions and make decisions that ensure quality care and optimal life for their loved ones. With their extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in their communities, care managers reduce a caregiver’s worry, stress, and time off of work.
A Geriatric Care Manager can:
- Greatly reduce family and caregiver stress and help eliminate family disputes and disagreements
- Conduct a full Assessment (medical, social, and demographic) on the level and type of care needed
- Perform Home Safety Evaluations
- Develop a Comprehensive care plan utilizing all available options including: community services, paid services, family, and volunteers
- Interview, implement, and manage the Care Plan to keep it functioning smoothly
- Advocate for the elder, disabled individual, and/or caregiver
- Manage care for an elder for out-of-town families
- Provide Caregiver Support and education including useful tips for dealing with difficult behaviors
- Assist with Medicaid applications when appropriate and refer you to an elder law attorney when necessary
- Provide all appropriate referrals including community programs, elder law attorneys, and financial advisors
- Provide assistance identifying, interviewing, and transitioning into assisted living facilities, rest home, or nursing homes
- Monitor the care of a family member in a nursing home or in assisted living
- Coordinate medical appointments and medical information
- Assist with all applications for community services and housing
- Assist families in positive decision making
- Provide Crisis Intervention
- Develop long range plans for older loved ones not now needing care
- Save families considerable amounts of money over those who do not use a care manager
- The cost of a care manager is typically only a fraction of the savings they can produce
How does a Care Manager work?
A care manager works with families in the way that works best for the family. From one-time consultations, to ongoing care management where the care manager can be involved with the elder several times per week, to senior care audits that last approximately several months, care managers work around the specific needs of the individual and caregiver.
A care manager begins by performing a comprehensive assessment in your loved one’s own home, whether they reside in a private home, apartment, assisted living, rehabilitation facility, or nursing home. The assessment includes information obtained from the caregiver as well as from the elderly and/or disabled individual and includes medical history, psycho-social, and current level of functioning also known as activities of daily living. A care manager will then create a care plan that identifies new and supplemental resources to ensure all of your loved ones needs are addressed. Care managers are knowledgeable on public services and programs that you or your loved one may be eligible for to save you considerable amounts of money.
Most caregivers are extremely busy juggling their own day-to-day responsibilities and supporting the needs of the person they provide care for. In these instances, ongoing care management can be very beneficial, especially when the caregiver is unable to take increasingly larger amounts of time off of work. If your loved ones reside in their own home, a care manager can not only manage home care, but can also oversee the plumbers, electricians, and other services needed to maintain a home. The care manager will implement, supervise, and continuously assess the care plan ensuring that your loved one’s needs are met and they are happy with their care.
If you are worried about an elderly and/or disabled loved one not living in your home, a senior care audit will offer you peace of mind. Senior care audits act as a “check-up” for your loved one. Audits are intensive visits to your aging and/or disabled loved one over a pre-defined period of time. Audits typically starts with one month, to assess the current level of care and identify ways to improve the care. For example, if your aging parent lives in another state and during your frequent phone conversations, your parent says they are doing fine, but you often wonder if they really are. You many want a care manager to visit that family member to verify that they are indeed doing well or perhaps your concern was correct and there are some areas they could use help with. In other cases, families may have a loved one in assisted living, or nursing facility, and they are unhappy with the care they are receiving. An audit will allow another set of eyes on your loved one. If there are areas that can be improved, the care manager will advocate on your behalf and address these issues with the facility staff. All too often it is the residents that have frequent visitors and constant advocacy on their behalf that get the best treatment. Care managers hold facilities accountable and can attend family meetings with the facility to be the best advocate for your loved one.
Many times caregivers struggle with their own health issues while trying to care for aging parents or a spouse with a stroke or other illness. It can become increasingly difficult to juggle all of the responsibility and can be hard to heal yourself when you are trying to be a caregiver. A care manager offers needed support to help alleviate some of the many burdens of caregiving. There are great resources out there, and the best care plan is often a mix of several resources. Many home care companies want to “do it all” for your loved one, but that is often not the best care plan. The right fit for your loved one may be home care, mixed with technology, and a supportive day center to help lower your caregiving costs while providing more overall supervision. Other families want a care manager to be the advocate for their aging loved one in a facility.
If you are a parent of an adult child with a brain injury and/or other disability a care manager can help. A mature parent who has always cared for their disabled child, may be ready to make future plans should there come a time they can no longer care for their disabled child. The care manager helps the family plan for the current and future needs of their adult child.
As of today, care management is not covered by insurance, but the industry is working to change this. Care managers review your current care plan and resources, and are often able to save elders money by making small changes.