What is a care manager?

By Elizabeth Caldwell, AA,
Care Manager Assistant, Elder Options Inc.

A son, living in Nebraska, called our office about his parents needing care in their home.  Our geriatric care manager assessed the mom, 86, and discovered she has memory loss and a fractured shoulder due to a recent fall. Her husband, also in his late 80s, couldn’t safely bathe her and help her out of bed in the morning. Instead of the son flying out to California and trying to find care for his parents on his own, he contacted Elder Options and our care manager coordinated care with existing staff of screened provider employees to provide the care. The father received respite and the son had peace of mind knowing a geriatric care manager would continue to monitor conditions with updates to the son on an ongoing basis.

I often hear the question, “What is a care manager?” With National Geriatric Care Manager Month in May, now is the perfect time to discuss the answer. A geriatric care manager (GCM) is an educated professional in the field of social work, nursing, gerontology, or other human service profession. These professionals carry at least a Bachelor’s Degree and many hold advanced Master Degrees. Professional Geriatric Care Managers are also certified with national certifications available throughout the U.S.  In order to become certified, the care manager must meet educational, experiential and be supervised by a certified professional as well as pass the national exam.

The goal of the care manager is to support and be a resource for older adults, and individuals with disabilities and their families throughout the community and nationwide. Credentialed care managers offer numerous services such as conducting psychosocial assessments, communication with legal and medical staff, advocacy, medical coordination as well as medication monitoring. These professionals conduct thorough assessments where needs are identified and assistance with resources such as Veterans benefits are provided. The Geriatric Care Manager also works with families in conducting family meetings to understand, assist and resolve care issues impacting the older adult and the family.

Care managers are also a wealth of knowledge. The care manager is able to assist with government entitlement programs, eligibility, costs and quality of services, community resources, and availability of services. This knowledge allows for community education regarding what resources may be available for older adults. Due to the number of services and programs available in any one community, it can be difficult to determine how to get started and what to complete on the many complex forms required. The care manager is a professional that can assist individuals and their families in finding solutions.

Spend the month of May – National Professional Geriatric Care Management month with me and honor the care managers whose mission and passion are to assist individuals and their families within the community to ensure happy, safe, and independent lives.

*Note: The above situation is typical but not related to any one individual.

This story falls on page "5"
Posted by on May 7 2012.
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