Speaking to an audience at a local library last month, Andrea Seewald, MSW, LSW, RG, asked one member of the audience to make the point about what a geriatric care manager can do for a family.
The woman talked about her aunt who had died recently after battling cancer for two years. She had lived in Texas with her husband, and now he was all alone. Their three daughters lived in different parts of the country and had been trying to visit and help out as much as they could.
But now their dad was in trouble. He had no doctor or dentist on record and was still driving, but was having some memory problems, difficulty writing checks and doing other household tasks. The daughters continued to visit as often as they could, but were getting exhausted from juggling the traveling and their own lives.
Andrea, a care manager located in Pittsburgh, PA, said this family could benefit from the services of someone trained in providing help to families when they are caring for an elderly loved one.
A care manager is generally a health and human services professional such as a gerontologist, social worker, counselor or nurse with a specialized body of knowledge and experience related to aging and elder care issues.
They can come into an older adult’s home and within two hours or so recommend what the best course of action for the older adult might be, Andrea says. “Care managers serve as assistants to you (the caregivers),” by assessing the situation, acquainting families with local services and dealing with money management, doctor’s appointments, home maintenance, home safety, medications, legal and financial concerns and emergencies.
Often, families think that the only answer to their concern for their relative is to “place” him or her in an assisted living residence, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, Andrea says. Families can explore other options, especially if their relative wants to remain at home. Options could include adult day care, visiting the local senior center during the day or hiring a home companion.
Care managers usually charge an hourly fee for their services, which varies by the area of the country you live in.
It may be money well spent. Care managers, Andrea says, “give support on a practical level which can help ease some of the emotional issues” family members are facing. “You are not doing this alone anymore.”
To find out more about care managers, visit www.caremanager.org where you can insert your zip code to see if there are any members of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Managers near you or your loved one. There is also a list of other resources on the site.
By Teresa K. Flatley
You can reach Andrea Seewald at email@example.com or through her website at www.SeniorCarePittsburgh.com