Caregiver support: Deciding on a geriatric care manager
As our loved ones age, they may need more care and attention than we are equipped to provide on our own. In times of crisis, such a lengthy, unexpected hospitalization, it can be overwhelming to navigate the unfamiliar world of elder care. That's where a geriatric care manager can help. A geriatric care manager is a professional who helps families navigate the often-complex medical, financial, and legal issues that come with aging. They can provide support and guidance to help you identify your elder care needs and explore all available options to meet those needs. Whether you're facing a sudden crisis or planning for the future, a geriatric care manager can help you create a plan to ensure that your loved one receives the best possible care.
Take the case of Jane and her father in his late 80s, who was ready to go home for rehab after two hospitalizations in a one-year period. The family didn’t know how they would be able to support him aging in place. They didn't know if they had Medicaid or Medicare options, and they knew that they did not have long-term care insurance. They needed a plan in place for him to recover at home.
Their geriatric care manager helped them find resources to make daily life easier. They created a long-term care plan, also known as longevity planning, and found necessary services to help him stay in his own home. Remaining at home instead of moving to a care facility is known as “aging in place.” The care manager became an advocate for the family, helping them achieve their goals.*
How can your family use a geriatric care manager?
Identify the need
Consider if a geriatric care manager may be helpful if an elderly family member is experiencing physical or cognitive decline, has multiple chronic conditions, or is struggling to manage daily activities.
It's common for families to seek out geriatric care management when they are in crisis, such as in Jane's case. However, it's important to consider geriatric care management as part of a long-term care plan.
The earlier you start planning, the better prepared you'll be to face any challenges that may arise.
Research and choose a care manager
Look for a geriatric care manager who is licensed, insured, and has a good reputation. You can ask for referrals from health care providers, or aging organizations. Another great resource is the local Area Agency on Aging (AAA), a public or private non-profit agency designated by the state to address the needs and concerns of all older persons in the region.
Unfortunately, geriatric care management is not covered by Medicare, and can only be covered by Medicaid for those who qualify as low-income. It's important to understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid when it comes to elder care. Medicare is a federal program designed to provide health coverage for hospitalizations and doctor visits.1 However, it is not designed to cover long-term care. It is designed to pay for short-term, rehabilitative care in a facility.2
Medicaid, on the other hand, is a joint federal and state program that is designed for and available to people based on their financial needs or limited financial availability of income and assets.3 The Medicaid program can be used to pay for medical services, but it can also pay for long-term care of a custodial nature and will pay for a Medicaid-eligible person's long-term care in a nursing home.4
Geriatric care managers are privately paid for their time, and the expense can range from $150-$350 per hour for consulting services, which is a standard rate for care managers across the country.5
Schedule an initial consultation
During the consultation, you and the care manager will discuss the individual's needs and goals and determine if you want to proceed with the care management services.
Work together to develop a care plan
The care manager will assess the individual's needs and develop a care plan that addresses the person's physical, and emotional well-being. The care manager will also coordinate with health care providers and other professionals to ensure that the individual receives appropriate care.6
Adjust the care plan as needed
The care manager will periodically review and update the care plan to ensure that it continues to meet the individual's needs. The care manager will communicate regularly with you and other family members to keep you updated on the individual's status and address any concerns or changes in their needs.
A geriatric care manager can be an invaluable resource for families caring for their aging loved ones, providing support and guidance to help identify your elder care needs and exploring all available options to meet those needs.
Consider adding geriatric care management to your long-term care plan, so you can ensure that your elderly family member receives the best possible care.