Baby Boomers' Aging Parents Drive Demand for Geriatric Care Managers

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With families living miles apart and the dramatic increase in the number of baby boomers (who also may be taking care of their own children);the demand for geriatric care managers is growing at a fast pace. Kansas City Home Care, a leading provider of geriatric care management services, explains the growing trend in this industry.

"We do all the things that adult children would do," said Cheryl Smith, founder and owner of Kansas City Home Care, a leading provider of geriatric care management services. "We often become their surrogate family."

It’s the phone call every adult child dreads. An elderly parent has been rushed to the emergency room and someone needs to be at the hospital to help make medical decisions. Except the adult child or children live miles away and it could be hours or days before a family member can be at Mom or Dad’s bedside. The solution to this crisis? Call a geriatric care manager to be there until a family member can arrive.

According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, a geriatric care manager is a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older adults. A relatively new profession which traces its roots back to the mid-1980s, the national association now has about 2,000 members, and those numbers continue to grow in response to the growing demand for this profession.

Cheryl Smith, founder and owner of Kansas City Home Care, a leading provider of geriatric care management services, says that geriatric care managers can be licensed social workers, counselors, nurses, gerontologists or psychologists with an expertise in elder-care issues. She also said that they can help families navigate insurance, act as advocates at hospitals and nursing homes, arrange for in-home care and home modifications, monitor medications, find lawyers for legal problems, take parents to medical appointments and can travel with them to their vacation homes. Hourly fees generally range from $85 to $200.

"We do all the things that adult children would do," said Smith. "We often become their surrogate family." Smith also said that the services she offers depend on the family’s needs. “Some families want advocacy for a loved one living in a nursing facility or assisted living,” she said. “I also have clients who just want to keep their parents at home and independent, so I set up and coordinate home care. Or sometimes families aren’t sure what they need, they only know the current situation is not working and they live too far away to help. I can provide a complete assessment and point them in the right direction.”

Baby boomers' aging parents help drive demand for this profession.
The profession of geriatric care management has been around for decades. But with families living miles apart and the dramatic increase in the number of baby boomers (who also may be taking care of their own children); Smith said that the demand for geriatric care managers is on the rise. "There are many older adults who don't have someone locally to look after them, yet they require someone to help with day-to-day decisions and care," she said. “It is more affordable and often more practical for families to hire a geriatric care manager than to have to travel frequently to deal with the issues surrounding elderly parents or other loved ones.”

Smith also added that with a geriatric care manager, families have access to inside knowledge on everything from local facilities, in-home services, where to find medical equipment and supplies to unadvertised benefits entitled by various associations— local (such as Alzheimer's Association) or national (such as Veterans). Most of all, the support of a geriatric care manager allows adult children to continue the routine of daily life while staying involved with their parents. Time with mom or dad becomes bonding time, rather than a visit that leaves the family feeling stressed or helpless with the aging experience of their loved ones.

Geriatric Care Management at a Glance:
What is it?
Geriatric care managers (GCMs) are professional advocates who help guide seniors and their caregivers through complex long-term care issues. GCMs are trained to recognize telltale signs that indicate specific needs, signs which you may not be able to recognize yourself. GCMs can be hired to help you in times of crisis, can provide respite services and can serve as the full-time point of contact for senior care services

What services should you expect?
GCMs begin by conducting a comprehensive care assessment of the senior’s health, social, emotional and physical needs, then drafting a plan of care. They often work with other long-term care professionals to coordinate the implementation of the needed services outlined in the plan of care. The services a GCM provides include screening, arranging and monitoring the services the senior requires, preserving financial resources by helping you avoid inappropriate placements and duplicated services, intervening in a crisis, counseling and supporting; educating and advocating.

Who pays for the service?
Geriatric care management is strictly private pay. Medicare, Medigap, Managed Care, Medicaid and LTCI do not cover the service.

Find a Geriatric Care Manager
Visit the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers website http://www.caremanager.org for a searchable database of reputable national care managers.

About Cheryl Smith and Kansas City Home Care, Inc.
Cheryl Smith is the president of Kansas City Home Care, Inc., a leading provider of home care and geriatric care management services since 1989. She is a gerontologist and a long-standing member of the National Association of Professional Care Managers (GCM), past president of the Midwest Chapter of GCM and a founding member of the National Private Duty Association. For more information, call 913-341-4800 or visit http://www.kchomecare.com.

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