There’s Never a More Perfect Time Than Now: The When & Why of an Initial Geriatric Care Management Consult

When is the best time to call a board certified aging life care professional such as a geriatric care manager? First of all, let’s list some of the more obvious reasons before we try to break down the more subtle reasons why when you, as an actual or potential caregiver need that extra professional long term care or aging life care expertise. Let’s start with the example of when an aging loved one becomes diagnosed with a type of dementia, and where the road soon becomes long and lonely- family and friends seem to disappear or like many caregivers, they honestly think that they can go it alone, only to find out that going it alone isn’t working that well. The healthcare system is not at all that uncomplicated to make matters worse. With every good intention, many caregivers continue to try to face the care-giving complexities alone, and alone they become exhausted. Caregiver stress is real! This article will describe some of the signs of caregiver stress, because I think it’s important to keep those signs in mind- just in case! Meanwhile, in addition to caregiver stress is the confusion of which direction to take once an aging or disabled loved one is diagnosed with a life threatening disease or has become too ill to care for at home. I’m reminded often of how patients don’t get the most common concerns answered as to where to go for help or what community resources there are to help offer supports and much needed information. That’s again, where aging life professionals such as geriatric care-managers come into the picture. It’s also concerning to me that adult children are having difficulties effectively communicating with their parent- the care recipient or the medical professionals they are depending upon for help. While doctors and hospitals help stabilize medical (and geriatric psychiatric) conditions, they often fall short in closing gaps, hoops and barriers of care connections. Geriatric care managers are natural connectors for care recipients and caregivers! Geriatric care managers are also natural mediators for helping to close the gaps of communication between aging loved ones and their adult children who are trying their best to be concerned or care for them

Secondly, I think my peers will agree when I project that in the years to come as we baby boomers get older and we are trying to care for our own parents, the healthcare system will not only be be more complicated as it relates to the business and economic developments of our healthcare system, but we are getting smarter! More and more of my clients are sharing information they have obtained from internet resources or word of mouth, that are not far from truth about newest trends in medical treatments and associated research. I enjoy being a partner with them in advocacy for them or a loved one, having no bias associated with a health care organization, etc. For over four decades now I have heard about how managed care will simplify the direction patients need to take for getting better care, yet, I, like so many of the clients I serve, am still somewhat skeptic. No matter what the turn of event is for the system, caregivers and care recipients are in the healthcare system expecting no less than the highest quality of care that they can get right now!

Thirdly, this article is to better inform caregivers that there are licensed social work and nursing professionals who have left the hospitals, clinics and insurance companies behind to help you directly in finding the right help at the right time for the right reason and by the right professional. Aging life care professionals such as geriatric care managers are professional navigators who know the many roads in healthcare and the highways and byways that connect you, the caregiver with the resources you need. In my practice, many of the calls I initially receive from caregivers are related to caregiver stress. I must here applaud the efforts of those wonderful caregivers who know when its time to reach out to someone who actually knows the landscape of an uncharted territory in which they roam; usually tired, overwhelmed and under cared for themselves. My job often seems more about caring for caregivers than it is about caring for the elderly in so many cases!

Signs of caregiver stress

As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Watch for these signs of caregiver stress, according to Mayo Clinic:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired often
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

According to the Journal of Aging Life Care, Vol. 27; Special Issue, March 2017; the Most common services performed by Aging Life Care Professionals are as follows:

Assessing, monitoring and update on client’s needs 89%

Managing crises, safety concerns or conflicts 80%

Coordinating and advocating for the client 75%

Providing support to preserve the client’s independence 58%

Providing mental health referrals, counseling and emotional support 34%

Offering activities to enhance client’s social support and quality of life 30%

Providing impaired memory support and services 26%

It was also noted that the service of completing paperwork for client’s insurance, benefits or finances amounted to a firm 25%, respectively. But here’s a rundown of why it’s a good idea to call a geriatric care manager who is board certified and independent of a major health care agency or organization in his/her practice.

Aging Life Care Professionals (see also aginglifecare.org):

  • Conduct individualized comprehensive assessments
  • Are board certified professionals
  • Educated, hold degrees, and licensed healthcare professionals
  • Typically have many years of knowledge and expertise to offer best advise and often work independent of healthcare organizations and insurance companies
  • They know the lay of the land better than anyone
  • They are natural “connectors”
  • Help detect other issues or concerns not fully realized
  • Project medical care needed and associated costs
  • Help explore options in care
  • Provide most reputable other professional resources
  • Help find relevant community resources
  • Offer emotional support
  • Help make best care giving decisions moving forward
  • Help identify pros and cons to care pathways
  • Become a partner in the care giving journey
  • Become available for crisis interventions 24/7
  • Assist in family mediation and core-team building
  • Create professional unparalleled care plans
  • Share latest research and trends in specific care areas
  • 24/7 Caring & Compassionate Consulting Expertise
  • Connect with highest quality industry standards professionals who are board certified; be cautious when working with non-certified “care managers” who may have limited and/or biased interest

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