Mary: What types of questions should a family ask when looking for a geriatric care manager?
Jim: The most fundamental question for the family to have the answer to is how the GCM can help them? In some cases (although not typically) the problems or issues concerning elders and family member are so basic that less expensive alternatives may suffice such as online resources or the information and referral departments of certain elder service organizations. Having said this it’s been my experience that most family members who inquire about my services typically have needs or issues that I can and should help with. Family members should verify what the GCM charges for his or her services and how charges are accrued and also get some sense that the GCM’s experience, professional background and availability will make for a good fit with the elder and his or her family.
Mary: You describe what you do as, “"psychosocial" aspects of caring for seniors, while strengthening the relationships with the people who care for them.” Can you explain that further?
Jim: It is my belief that many of the overriding issues that trigger a referral to a GCM are behavioral or/or emotional in nature. Once the GCM begins work with the elder and family, I would argue that it is often these behavioral/emotional issues that often become salient. Very often I find that the concrete aspects of a proposed plan of care, such as new resources or services or a change in residence cannot be implemented without some resolution of the of the more fundamental behavioral problems.
Mary: Is this aspect your philosophy alone? If not, would it be reasonable for caregivers to ask a geriatric care manager if they follow this viewpoint?
Jim: I would say not although GCMs with backgrounds in disciplines related to psychosocial assessment and treatment will likely be more inclined to conceptualize GCM in this fashion.
Mary: Can you give us a couple of scenarios as to situations you might assist a family?
Jim: A family who’s elderly member is in a nursing home and the family has serious concerns about the overall quality of care at the facility and has had past difficulty attempting to ameliorate these problems themselves.
An elder who has had repeated hospitalizations and now has involvement from Adult Protective services. In this scenario Protective Services may be mandating to the family that the elder accept a plan of care at home to prevent these hospitalizations but the elder is resisting.
An elderly parent who lives alone at home and is now impressing her long distance children with short-term memory loss. These family members are finding that their mother who has always been very capable is now having difficulty with keeping house and paying bills. They are now interested in consulting with a professional who can advise them on available services and what to expect going forward.
Mary:Where can families find a reliable geriatric care manager?
Jim: Best source to begin the search is the NAPGCM website, (www.caremanager.org), particularly the “find a care manager” tool. Be mindful that in many areas, particularly semi-rural and rural areas, local GCMs serve a wide area so it is sometimes advisable to search for GCMs up to 50 miles away.
Mary: Could you share a few of your favorite geriatric care tips and tricks for caregivers to close?
Jim:States, Massachusetts for example, often have rated the quality of nursing homes based on their quality surveys. I would definitely inquire these reviews in addition to any word of mouth nursing home recommendations.
Elders who are need of 24/7 care and are sometimes active during the overnight hours should have caregivers who are awake during these hours. Given this I would recommend occasional visits in the middle of the night from family members to verify that the caregiver is awake while on duty and not sleeping in advance of attending a day job.
In nearly all cases I feel that is best to avoid making privately hired home care arrangements. There are very compelling reasons for avoiding these along the lines of liability. If you however feel inclined to hire privately someone who comes highly recommended or a friend or neighbor, I would first check with your lawyer and insurance agent.