What is a Geriatric Care Manager?

A professional Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) is a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older relatives. The GCM is trained and experienced in any of several fields related to long-term care, including, but not limited to nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care.

The professional GCM assists older adults and persons with disabilities in attaining their maximum functional potential. In addition, the GCM is an experienced guide and resource for families of older adults and others with chronic needs.

When considering whether to engage the services of a Geriatric Care manager (GCM), you should evaluate whether you have the time, inclination, or skills to manage the challenges of geriatric care. If you are not sure, ask a trusted advisor to help you decide if an elder care expert may be helpful. Enlisting the support of other family member to consult a professional is a good way to build a consensus on the solutions.

Questions that you may wish to consider:  Are the problems that you or your loved ones are facing becoming larger and more complex than you can comfortably manage? – Are other demands and responsibilities now so great that you are not able to provide the desired level of supervision and attention to your loved one’s problems?

What Can a GCM Do for Me?

• Conduct care-planning assessments to identify problems and to provide solutions.
• Screen, arrange, and monitor in-home help or other services.
• Provide short- or long-term assistance for caregivers living near or far away.
• Review financial, legal, or medical issues and offer referrals to geriatric specialists.
• Provide crisis intervention.
• Act as a liaison to families at a distance, overseeing care, and quickly alerting families to problems.
• Assist with moving an older person to or from a retirement complex, assisted care home, or nursing home.
• Provide consumer education and advocacy.
• Offer counseling and support.

Some GCMs also provide family or individual therapy, finance management, conservatorship or guardianship assistance, and/or caregiving services.

What are the Benefits of Using a GCM? Professional Geriatric Care Management services are offered in a variety of settings. Professional Geriatric Care Managers (GCMs) can serve the needs of their clients with the following services:

• Personalized and compassionate service — focusing on the individual’s wants and needs.
• Accessibility — care is typically available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
• Continuity of care management – communications are coordinated between family members, doctors and other professionals, and service providers.
• Cost containment — inappropriate placements, duplication of services, and unnecessary hospitalizations are avoided.
• Quality control – care management services follow NAPGCM’S Standards of Practice and Pledge of Ethics.

Questions To Ask When Looking For a Professional Geriatric Care Manager:

Professional geriatric care managers have diverse experience, education, and backgrounds. Many are licensed in their state in specific fields (such as nursing or social work). GCMs do not specialize in all areas. When a GCM says s/he practices “care management,” find out her/his areas of expertise. You will want to hire someone who regularly handles clients with similar needs.

GCMs who primarily work with older adults bring more to their practice than an expertise in geriatrics. They bring knowledge of aging issues that allow them and their staff to overcome the myths relating to aging and to focus on the problems at hand. At the same time, they will bring an experience of working with resources in your community. They are more aware of real life problems, health and otherwise, that emerge as persons age and the tools that are available to address those issues. They are also connected with a community of social workers, nurses, psychologists, elder law attorneys, advocates, and other elder care professionals who may be of assistance to you.

It is important for the wise consumer to ask questions. Some of these include:

1.  What are your professional credentials?
2.  Are you licensed in your profession?
3.  Are you a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers?
4.  How long have you been providing care management services?
5.  Are you available for emergencies?
6.  Does your company also provide home care services?
7.  How do you communicate information to me?
8.  What are your fees? (Fees are provided to the responsible party in  writing prior to the    services starting.)
9.  Can you provide me with references?

Provided by Ann Krauss, Communications Director for the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM). Geriatric care managers who are members of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) are committed to adhering to the NAPGCM Pledge of Ethics and Standards of Practice. For more information please visit www.caremanager.org. Consumers may obtain the free brochure “Questions and Answers When Looking for a Geriatric Care Manager,” on the NAPGCM web site at: http://www.caremanager.org and then click on “About Your Care Manager”.

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