We recently had a client ask us how to get care for her father, while connecting all the dots between his health, finances, housing, insurance, and siblings that don’t always agree on what’s best for dad. The family needed a capable, informed, objective third party, who knows their way around the myriad of issues related to care for aging parents. She didn’t know it, but she was asking about Geriatric Care Management.

Several related terms come into play with this subject. Geriatric Care Manager and Geriatric Case Manager are common terms. The Aging Life Care Association uses the trademarked term Aging Life Care Professional. Those terms can, however, be a little misleading. While it’s true that our aging population is on the increase, many similar needs are found among adults with special needs, regardless of age.

The benefit of geriatric care management

The basic idea behind care management, whether related to special needs or aging adults, is that a host of related needs and solutions are coordinated through one trusted, capable professional. Steve Miskovic, Director of Operations for Care Choice Care Management is a great resource in the world of care management. He offered an example from recent experience.

For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call his client Janice. Janice is over eighty years old. Mark, her son, lives on the west coast. Janice needed extensive work done on her home. Steve arranged for a short term stay in an assisted living center, knowing that she might need to stay at a long-term care community at a later date, with an unknown time horizon.

When Janice fell and broke her hip in the assisted living center, Steve put a different plan into action. He coordinated her care, worked with the hospital discharge planners, coordinated her admission into a rehab center, and keeps an eye on her recovery while the next step is being planned.

Steve serves as the one stable thing throughout these rapidly-changing developments. These, along with the financial and insurance pieces, would have been too much for Mark to handle on his own. There are other social workers along the way, but they are typically overloaded, and details fall through the cracks. Mark is relieved that his mother is getting careful, detailed care from a knowledgeable professional, while staying fully informed at every step.

Choosing a geriatric care manager

Because a care manager plays such an important role with your family and loved one, it’s worth putting some effort into the selection. Here are a few pointers.

Get a referral: If you’ve done any kind of estate or retirement planning, you probably have an attorney or financial advisor you trust. Make them your first call. If they have someone they recommend, include that referral in the two or three providers you consider.

Alternatively, the Aging Life Care Association offers a robust, geographically-based search function. The results show, among other things, the practice areas of each individual.

Do your homework: Review and compare the websites and printed materials of the providers under consideration. Make a list of questions or concerns. Ask others in your circle of friends at church or in social circles.

Consider Competence and Chemistry: Your initial conversation may not be with the actual care or case manager, but you should get a feel for the company, the staff and their capabilities. The company’s approach makes a difference. Steve Miskovic explains: “For us, it’s not just about hiring competent caregivers. It’s about carefully assembling a team of highly qualified professionals, each with their own specialty, and synergizing those talents to deliver the very best care.”

Getting started

Usually it starts with a phone call and a simple conversation. You will discuss your situation with the care manager, and they’ll offer some ideas about how they can be helpful. The call is typically followed by a complimentary meeting with the client and their family.

How services are paid for

There are two basic ways geriatric care management services are paid for. Long Term Care Insurance sometimes offers coverage, but not very often. Those that do offer coverage, require a rider on the policy. In the vast majority of cases, services are paid for from private funds. Companies structure their charges in different ways. As for Care Choice Care Management, their charges are based on an hourly rate.

What is your aging plan?

Quality of life in your later years doesn’t happen by accident. The same is true of protecting the interests of special needs children. It requires both financial and legal planning, and being prepared to afford Geriatric Care Management, among other things. If you want help making your plans, call Quinn Estate & Elder Law at 636-428-3344.