Geriatric Care Managers are resource specialists and advocates for seniors and their families. They can be social workers, nurses, gerontologists, psychologists or other health and human services specialists. They are dedicated to assisting elders and their loved ones navigate the health care system. They assist with current day to day care issues, ongoing care management, crisis management, and future care planning. They are skilled at securing appropriate living arrangements and coordinating myriad services for complicated medical/psychiatric needs. Geriatric Care Managers are professional problem solvers and can be your guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing array of services that are available in our community.

What are the benefits for seniors and families working with an independent geriatric care manager? Geriatric Care Managers represent seniors and families. They draw on their training and experience in the senior care industry to provide professional care planning, care supervision and high quality, cost effective services. Geriatric Care Managers conduct a needs assessment addressing medical, social, emotional, legal, financial, and housing needs. Care options are presented based on the individual situation and elder/ family needs. Geriatric Care Managers assist in navigating through a variety of services as the elder's condition changes. They provide continuity and coordination with doctors, home health care agencies, and other providers. This includes monitoring care and advocating on the elder’s behalf as often as necessary to ensure quality care. Geriatric Care Managers can be the ‘eyes and ears’ for out-of-town family members; not only to assist with services in the home of a senior, but, also to objectively assess care in a facility and function as a liaison with far away family. Geriatric Care Managers facilitate family communication and aid in the decision-making process. Geriatric Care Managers can help in selecting the appropriate Assisted Living Facility or other housing options. They can save a family time and money by researching facilities and negotiating the lease and/or contract with or for them.

Most families truly want to do the best for their elders, but without the aid of a knowledgeable professional, they may still be worried and unsure. Geriatric Care Managers help to give the family “peace of mind” and the certainty that they have done all they could. Geriatric Care Managers can help family communicate the need for services or the importance of making a move. They can assist elders in securing family support for their decisions. Also, they can help explain the situation to family members who may be overwhelmed, resistant or in denial.

What should a consumer look for in a Geriatric Care Manager? Experience in the field is essential. Affiliation with a professional organization such as social work or nursing is important so there is a governing body to whom they are responsible and from whom a code of ethics is based. Geriatric Care Managers should not be affiliated with other care providers (such as home health care agencies) to avoid conflicts of interest. There should be clarity regarding their fee schedule. Typically, GCMs are available for emergency situations. Many GCMs are available 24/7. When should you call a Geriatric Care Manager?

When you are overwhelmed with the options or don’t know where to start researching options.
When you are out of town and unable to attend to the needs of your loved one.
When there is a crisis and you need help right away to facilitate change.
When family is conflicted about the direction to take for a loved one’s care.
When an objective opinion is needed to assess a living situation.
When you want a professional to attend a care conference with you or for you.
When you are having difficulty communicating with family members or with the professionals caring for your loved one.
When you are not satisfied with the care your loved one is receiving.
Geriatric Care Managers are a fee-for-service entity. They do not receive payment from Medicare or Medicaid and they do not take referral fees from third party providers, insurance companies or equipment manufacturers. However, some Long Term Care Insurance policies now recognize the importance of these services and cover the cost.

Here are some options if you are interested in working with an Independent Professional Geriatric Care Manager:

Care Options Network, www.careoptionsnetwork.org, 952.945.4077
Senior Linkage Line www.minnesotahelp.info, 800.333.2433
Alzheimer’s Association www.alzmndak.org, 800.232.0851
National Association of Elder Law Attorneys www.naela.com
Life Care Planning Law Firms Association http://www.lcplfa.org/
National Association of GCM at www.caremanager.org, 520.881.8008
Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging is a professional networking organization made up of representatives of diverse organizations, all committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. For more information on EPPIA and a list of resources regarding activities in Eden Prairie, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org/.

Submitted by EPPIA member: Joyce M. Konczyk, LSW, Geriatric Care Manager, 612.227.7414