Good question!  And the simplest answer is….maybe??  I know that’s ambiguous but there are certain things to consider when deciding if a geriatric care manager is right for you and your family.

First, what exactly is a geriatric care manager?  Think of them as a liaison.  A liaison between your elderly loved one – your parent, let’s say – and the medical community, the home health aid workers you employ or the assisted living facility they may live in.  They often have backgrounds in social work, nursing or other human service fields and their main focus is to advocate for your loved one.  When faced with the plethora of options, opinions and people that become involved when a loved one becomes ill or unable to fully care for themselves anymore, having someone to help sort through it all can be a blessing. But at what cost you might ask? This is where a lot of people will have to weigh whether managing their loved ones care is something that they can handle on their own with the help of other family members or whether it is worth it to employ a care manager.  Geriatric care managers do not come cheap.  Many charge an upfront assessment fee ranging anywhere from approximately $200 to $700 (this number is approximate and varies by region) and then charge an hourly rate for services rendered.  Some just charge the hourly rate.  So, when thinking about this, cost is something to consider.

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Another important thing you must consider is, are they members of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers? And are they certified by one of the three certification organizations for care management — the National Association of Social Workers, the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, or the Commission for Case Managers?  Knowing that you are placing some of the care of your loved one in qualified hands can help you relax during this often stressful process.  It is one less thing to think about during a time that may be fraught with worry.  Even when the care manager you are considering hiring is certified it also is a good idea to ask for and check their references. Someone with experience will expect you to ask for references so never feel embarrassed or worried that you are offending them.

Lastly, consider where you are located in relation to your elderly loved one.  Being long distance from your loved one can and will make the process of delegating care and making decisions about facilities or health care workers harder. In this case, having a care manager there to act in the best interest of your family member may make a world of difference.  Being your eyes and ears when you can’t be there can give you much needed assurance that your loved one is getting the best care possible.  It is also the job of the care manager to be in contact with you often, via email, text or even video chats if you are long distance.  This way you will always be in the loop and ultimately involved in all of the decision making.

All in all, the decision to hire a care manager for your loved one will be based on how well you think you can navigate the system, how much, financially you are willing to invest in outside help and how comfortable you feel (if you live a great distance or in another state) doing business with doctors, home health workers, etc. from a distance.

Check out http://www.caremanager.org/ for more information on geriatric care managers.

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