August 28

De-mystifying Geriatric Care Managers

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Everything you should know about the costs of hiring a care manager

As we have tried to help find resources to aid our clients in choosing elder care options, we came across an article published by The Tax Advisor that we found very interesting. We are going to share parts of their article with you today. The entire article is very fascinating and we recommend that you read it in its entirety.

Here are some of the amazing pieces of advice from a financial perspective that they give families as they are weighing the options of a care manager:

A geriatric care manager (GCM) can become a valuable partner to the practitioner and his or her clients. GCMs are experts at navigating the medical system. They can serve as advocates inside and between care facilities. They can also step in to supervise care if adult children live elsewhere. By partnering with a GCM, the practitioner gains an ally in ensuring that care decisions align with financial goals and the family's resources.
Despite the many benefits that a GCM can deliver, the decision to hire one is often difficult. Some clients might feel it is an extravagance only the wealthy can afford. Others have never heard about geriatric care management as a specialty field and do not know where to begin.
This column's purpose is to de-mystify the emerging geriatric care management field and arm CPA financial planners to provide valuable guidance to their client families.
Geriatric care management 101: What services does a GCM provide?
Geriatric care management is a new field, and many families do not even know that this service is available — until they need it. That puts them in the position of having to make quick decisions without sufficient background or the benefit of proper expectations. What does a GCM do, exactly?
Here is a quick overview of services that can be available through a GCM.
Coordinating health care across several agenciesA GCM can help the family choose the right balance of care locations depending on the circumstances, insurance, and financial resources that are available (e.g., in-home care, specialized facility, etc.)
Financial coordination servicesExperienced GCMs have a deep knowledge of the medical and care systems. They can help the family plan for future care and estimate what it might cost. They can also recommend appropriate state and local relief programs.
Family assistanceA trained GCM can streamline conversations between care providers to avoid miscommunications. He or she can also help with conflict management and mediating tough conversations.
Advocacy within the health care systemA GCM can serve as the voice for the client and family inside facilities. This is particularly helpful if the patient's family does not live near the facility or has a strained relationship with service providers.
Legal coordination: GCMs are not attorneys, but they can connect client families with lawyers and other specialists if that becomes necessary.
Knowledge of local resourcesA GCM can educate the client family about local resources that are available, make recommendations, and begin introductions.
Crisis interventionGCMs can navigate hospital emergency departments, unexpected hospitalizations, etc. This is especially valuable for family members who live far away and would otherwise have to travel on short notice.
Making housing decisions: A GCM can help family members evaluate available options against the backdrop of the patient's health history and likely prognosis. Moving an elderly parent out of a home or from one facility to another requires awareness and expert balancing of facts and emotions. The right professional can make these tough transitions more manageable.

As you can see, there are many ways a Geriatric Care Manager can help a family who is struggling to care for their aging loved one. In addition, GCM's are not regulated by any government entity and so it can be difficult to know who to trust. Here are a few qualifiers that can help you know who to hire and trust:

Education and certifications

As mentioned earlier, GCMs are not regulated. Anyone could use the "GCM" label without any certifications at all. Companies that have memberships in national organizations, such as the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA - aginglifecare.org), will generally have the education, experience, and certification as a GCM. This is one of the reasons why we belong to both ALCA and the National Care Planning Council (NCPC). All of our care managers also have a degree in a field related to elder care, such as social work, nursing, psychology, mental health, public health, counseling, etc.

Availability

A GCM will put forth a lot of time and energy as they take on a new elder care case. The provider must get to know the patient, the family, medical histories, and much more. They must also be available to respond to any issues in the event of an emergency. It is important to find out the availability up front that will meet your needs. For example, if the family needs a GCM who will be on call 24/7, it is important to communicate that information up front.

Experience in your local area

To be effective, a GCM should have extensive knowledge and hands-on experience of local resources. Without such a knowledge, a care manager will not be effective at advocating and advising the family at making important decisions. It is important to find someone who knows and understands what programs are available as well as the people who run the programs. Knowing who the program coordinators, nurses, managers, doctors and other professionals within the system will help them give guidance and counsel for the best course of action.

Personality Fit

Because a GCM will be working closely with your loved one and your family, it is important to make sure there is a natural personality fit. Interpersonal chemistry, communication habits, and personality can make or break the working relationship.

What about the costs?

Interestingly this article from a tax advisor group also brings up personal finances. That is because all care options have a cost. However, the value of a GCM isn't always measured in dollars and cents. That is why we recommend setting up a consultation with a care manager to discuss how their services can benefit you and your family. As you weigh the benefits along with the costs, it is usually easy to determine the value of having a care manager on your side. Our professional GCM's can develop a custom care plan and aid in the execution of that plan. Whatever the outcome may be, it is worth talking with a care manager to see how they can help provide solutions for your family.


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