Why You Should Consider a Geriatric Care Manager

The next time you’re at a cocktail party and find yourself making small talk about your kids’ college savings, throw a conversational curveball.

Ask the group how much time they’ve spent investigating geriatric care for their aging parents.

Many people spend more time planning their children’s college education than assisting their parents with the aging journey. Approaching the role as an advisor or potential caregiver is a daunting and emotional challenge—and a great responsibility.

It’s OK to Ask for Help

Finding the best advice can be extremely challenging and time consuming. While some older adults choose to move to a retirement community, studies indicate that the vast majority of older adults wish to “age in place,” meaning to stay in their own homes as they age.

That scenario can be the most difficult and complex. How do you find competent care givers? What about Medicare reimbursement? How do you care for a parent who lives in a different city?

One route many people take is to seek the advice of a geriatric care manager. You might equate their counsel to an attorney or financial advisor. The key consideration is that the manager should be independent and totally impartial.

These advisors come from varied backgrounds; some have advanced degrees in geriatric care, others are RNs and many have backgrounds in social work. They even have their own association, National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, which is a great resource for finding a connection.

Peace of Mind

Julie Fohrman is a gerontologist and the founder and director of North Shore Geriatric Care Management in Highland Park. Julie, who has been practicing for nearly 15 years, says, “Our role is to advocate for the older adult and take the pressure off the adult children.”

According to Fohrman, care managers typically provide the following:

  • Care plan assessments
  • Referrals to quality resources
  • Counseling and ongoing support
  • Senior housing placements to retirement, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehab facilities
  • Screening, coordination and monitoring of in-home help and other services
  • Coordination of health care services between client, family and health care providers
  • Advocacy in hospitals and long-term care settings
  • Review of financial, legal and medical issues in order to offer referrals and conserve assets
  • Liaison to families living at a distance, overseeing care and quickly alerting families to potential problems
  • Emergency crisis management and intervention

Illinois-based care managers typically charge $120-200 per hour and most do not require a retainer.

Debra Feldman is based out of Buffalo Grove and has been practicing since 1988. “I describe myself like a quarterback whose role is to make certain that all my clients’ needs are met.”

Long-distance care giving can be a big challenge for an adult child, Feldman explains. “The care and time we provide is peace of mind and might even be less than the airfare when an emergency arises.”

Fohrman tells the recent story of a client family she helped with their elderly father—beginning with rehab, on to assisted living and, finally, with hospice care. “I advised them on what kind of wheelchair dad should use all the way to helping the family dismantle his home and re-locate possessions to his adult children,” Fohrman says. “Geriatric managers provide a very personalized and private care experience.”

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