What Is a Geriatric Care Manager?

While working for the Alzheimer's Association, I received a lot of phone calls concerning geriatric care for aging pa rents. Many of the calls came from adult children who were either overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities or lived too far away to provide the eldercare their parent required. Many times, I suggested that the caller lookinto hiring a geriatric care manager.what-is-a-geriatric-care-manager2

Many people are unfamiliar with the concept of a geriatric care manager, but the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) - which was founded in 1985 - currently boasts a membership of over 2,000 professionals. Geriatric care managers help adult children meet the eldercare needs of older parents.

They don't normally provide hands-on care, but they can screen, hire, and supervise professional in-home caregivers as well as find and coordinate a move to a long-term care facility. They often act as advocates for their clients, especially when adult children live far away.

According to a profile of geriatric care managers on About.com, most have backgrounds in nursing, social work, gerontology (the study of the biological, psychological, and social aspects of aging), or counseling. They might be licensed in their specializations, and they also have the option of becoming certified through NAPGCM - a distinction that requires an examination as well as evaluation of the professional's educational and work experiences.

Hiring a Geriatric Care Manager

The one possible downside to hiring a geriatric care manager is cost. Most services are not covered by Medicare or private long-term care insurance, and the fees can be high. For instance, anarticleby Bob Moos in the Dallas Morning News cites that geriatric care managers in the Dallas area charge $75 to $125 an hour.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by your caregiving demands and are interested in finding a geriatric care manager, ask your parent's physician or other eldercare providers for recommendations.The Alzheimer's Association,Alzheimer's Society of Canada, and your localArea Agency on Agingare also good places to ask for referrals. You can also try searching the professionaldatabase at NAPGCM's website. Here are some questions to ask during your search:

  • Is the person licensed in his or her field?
  • Is the geriatric care manager certified through NAPGCM?
  • How long has the person been working in eldercare?
  • Is the person accessible by cell phone and email?
  • When is the geriatric care manager available? Does the person respond to emergencies?
  • Can the person provide references?
  • What are the person's fees?

If you do decide to hire a geriatric care manager, be sure to get everything in writing and sign a contract before services begin. If you've already used the services of a geriatric care manager, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Did you feel that your parent was in good hands? Were your caregiving demands less stressful when you knew that the geriatric care manager was managing your parent's eldercare? Post a comment to this blog and share your experiences with the community - and don't forget to sign up for the EldercareABC email list to receive up-to-date eldercare tips and news.

--Carrie L. Hill, Ph.D

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