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Do You Need a Geriatric Care Manager?

Danny Szlauderbach
By Danny SzlauderbachJuly 4, 2020

Have you noticed your parent or senior loved one needs more care than they’re currently receiving? Figuring out what to do next can be confusing. What are their true health and day-to-day needs? Who can help provide care? Where do you even start?

A geriatric care manager can help you sort through the options. Learn more about services geriatric care managers offer, how they can help families negotiate senior care plans, and when to involve them in your own family’s decisions.

What is geriatric care?

Geriatric care means medical care related to older adults. A senior’s unique health care situation, rather than a particular age, determines whether they need geriatric care. Medical concerns for older adults — including chronic conditions more common with aging, immobility, impaired vision, cognitive decline, and inability to perform activities of daily living — are often different from the needs of others and therefore require specific treatment.

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What is a geriatric care manager?

Geriatric care managers are licensed professionals — often nurses, social workers, or gerontologists — who specialize in aging and managing senior care. They can act as a “professional relative” and voice of neutrality, leading families through difficult, emotionally charged conversations. Geriatric care managers also help families and seniors identify areas of concern and work to create a senior care plan that helps bring seniors, family members, and caregivers peace of mind.

“We’re able to evaluate the client in all dimensions and tailor care to their individual needs,” says Suzanne Modigliani, a licensed social worker and member of the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) who has specialized in geriatrics for 25 years.

Elder care manager responsibilities

Geriatric care managers — sometimes called geriatric case managers, elder care managers, or aging life care professionals — are trained to find resources that make it easier for families to make hard decisions.

“There are eight core knowledge areas we have: crisis intervention, health and disability, financial, housing, legal, family, advocacy, and local resources,” says Anne Sansevero, an ALCA member and founder and CEO of HealthSense in New York. 

Main geriatric care manager responsibilities include:

  • Providing a comprehensive assessment of care needs
  • Making long-term and short-term care plans
  • Addressing emotional concerns and worries
  • Coordinating medical services among several agencies
  • Hiring a team of caregivers and medical professionals
  • Providing guidance with transitions of care
  • Guiding families through complex issues
  • Relieving caregiver stress

Your guide through senior care management

When it comes to making senior care decisions for a parent or senior loved one, families may be intimidated by researching and trying to understand which services their loved one needs — and when they need them. This responsibility can be particularly challenging if your parent has a sudden, unexpected health emergency.

That’s where geriatric care managers can help. Experienced in senior care, they can devote time to learning about individual medical conditions and available resources. They can present a variety of options, helping families choose the plan that works best for their situation.

Geriatric care managers have no emotional connections or complicated family history to overcome. Their objectivity is valuable when it comes to navigating tough family conversations about the future of a senior loved one.

Questions to ask when hiring a geriatric care manager

Before hiring an elder care manager, find out:

  • If they have experience directly related to your loved one’s needs. For example, some geriatric care managers may specialize in dementia care while others know more about mobility issues or physical injuries
  • If they specialize in working through health crisis scenarios. If your parent is going through an emergency and you’re feeling overwhelmed, a care manager may help relieve stress
  • Whether they have care manager certification or any other professional licenses
  • If they will provide of client references who can speak to their professional experience
  • Their fee structure and cost estimates, including for an initial assessment

Elder care management costs: How much do geriatric care managers charge?

Most geriatric care managers charge by the hour, with fees ranging from about $75 to $200 an hour. An initial assessment can cost hundreds of dollars. Providing a detailed history ahead of time can help assessment time be used more strategically, says Sansevero.

While some families hire a geriatric care manager for a one-time assessment, many choose to keep a care manager involved throughout the care process. Asking for approximations of time needed for specific services can help families estimate costs. 

Most insurance plans won’t cover the cost of a geriatric care manager, and Medicare doesn’t pay for their services. Most families that hire a geriatric care manager do so at their own expense. However, if you have long-term care insurance, check to see if it will cover an initial assessment.

“Often the assessment may uncover unknown resources for funding care, or the services will help you navigate complex funding care options,” Sansevero says.

Senior care management advice at no cost to you

A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors can help guide you through the complex and sometimes confusing world of senior living. As regional representatives, they can help you locate a local senior living community in your specific area. They’re paid through communities, so services are free to families.

Senior living options include:

Danny Szlauderbach
Author
Danny Szlauderbach

Danny Szlauderbach is an editor and content writer at A Place for Mom. Since 2010, his work in strategic communications has spanned across several industries, including education, technology, and financial services. He’s a member of ACES: The Society for Editing and a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas.

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