Do you ever think about whether you might need extra care as you age? Or have you thought about who would assist you if you needed help at home or had to go to the hospital? Most aging adults assume they will rely on family members for these things. Sometimes this is not practical in today’s society, and sometimes this is just not an option. Today, more than ever before, aging adults need to think about the future and plan ahead.
Aging is a complex process with many moving parts. Often a professional with specialized knowledge in aging is needed to assist an individual in coordinating and navigating this process to make life easier. Aging Life Care Professionals, previously known as Geriatric Care Managers, assist aging adults and their families with a vast range of issues revolving around aging.
An Aging Life Care Professional, or simply referred to as a Care Manager, often has a background in nursing, gerontology, or social work. A Care Manager’s education and experience lend them the ability to assisting families in performing an assessment and developing a plan that incorporates wishes and desires, but also focuses on needs and safety to help one live as independently as possible. The Care Manager becomes the coordinator of the plan to make sure everything is conducted smoothly and efficiently.
Many times, an aging adult or their loved one will contact a Care Manager because of physical or mental health challenges such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease; Care Managers are experts at managing such struggles. Care Managers attend doctor appointments, facilitate communication between medical providers, clients and families, and are able to assist with many more health related issues. They assist with referrals for services such as home care or physical therapy and assist with monitoring these.
Evaluating and discussing living arrangements is a frequent task encountered by a Care Manager. Most seniors want to “age in place” in their home; however, this is not always the best choice. A Care Manager is able to look at all available options based on the individual and his/her wants and desires, needs, safety, and finances along with family input.
Care Managers connect families with local resources in their community including but not limited to medical, housing, financial, food, counseling, and legal services. They are knowledgeable not only about the services, but also how to access them.
Nobody likes to experience a crisis, but a Care Manager is ready and able to assist should one arise. Imagine a loved one has fallen at home prompting a visit to the Emergency Room which ultimately leads to unexpected surgery for a broken hip. Care Managers can make sure appropriate care is in place for the loved one in this situation even if the family lives in another state. A Care Manager can be a great asset to families living a long distance from their loved ones, especially when crises occur.
Navigating aging challenges can bring unwanted stress to families. Conflicts between aging adults and their loved ones are not uncommon. The aging adult may complain of feeling disrespected and ignored while their loved ones may feel useless and unvalued. Care Managers may assist families with coping and problem-solving skills; they are able to be more objective than family members, and often serve as mediators between family members and their loved ones.
As you can see the role of a Care Manager spans many different areas, but always focuses on older adults aging well and living to their optimal potential. Being a strong Patient Advocate is a huge passion of a Care Manager. They advocate to make sure their client’s rights and wishes are always protected, and the individual is living their best quality of life. Care Managers strive to assist both their clients and their loved ones to live their best life together. An Aging Life Care Professional, Geriatric Care Manager or Care Manager are all similar names for “Experts at Aging Well”.
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