Senior care services often must begin quickly, after a senior has suffered a sudden medical condition such as a stroke or developed an age-related illness such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. As senior care impacts an entire family, both financially and emotionally, it can sometimes be beneficial to consult with and hire a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM). Caregiverlist's guest columnist, Charlotte Bishop, explains the services and value provided by a professional Geriatric Care Manager, as she has provided
Why Call a Geriatric Care Manager?
It is said that it takes a village to raise a child; in my experience as a Geriatric Care Manager, I have found that it takes a village to care for our elders. Most folks don’t know where to turn when they are confronted with what is often a crisis … precipitated by a fall, by a stroke or an accident of some sort. This is where geriatric care managers (GCM's) can come in as one of the members of your “village” that you should know about.
Geriatric Care Managers (GCM's) are trained to consult with seniors and their family about their medical, social and physical situation and connect them with appropriate professionals and resources as indicated. Certified by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, GCM's often have educational degrees in gerontology, nursing, social work, psychology or rehabilitation. I, for instance, have a Master's degree in rehabilitation, and the GCM is one of my five professional certifications.
Just as we go to a lawyer for legal needs and an accountant for financial needs, think of GCM's as the professionals who can help with the wide range of needs an older adult or others have. A GCM can recognize early onset of medical conditions and recommend appropriate specialists. They can put a client in touch with craftsmen who can adapt a household to accommodate the physical limitations of an aging adult. They are trained to look for signs of physical, emotional, or financial exploitation and to be there to help. (They are legally obligated to report abuse.)
Geriatric Care Managers also are family counselors, so they can step in to help families make collective decisions about care options. They can present the elder and the family with options like in-home services such as home care, or locate a suitable independent living community when home is no longer a viable option. If need be, they can direct clients to other resources or work with others within a care team. And a GCM can be there when the family members cannot. We all hear about the sandwich generation adults who are caregivers for both their children and their aging parents. GCM's can help take some of the strain off the “sandwiched adult.” Local is a GCM’s forte, a personalized care that is there when the family cannot be.
The Wall Street Journal said in an article in February, 2007, that in addition to manageable fees, “[GCMs] can do everything from assessing your parents’ long-term care needs and finding them a place to live to helping you navigate the health-care system.”
This very short overview begins to show you what a GCM can do, but everyone’s questions and needs are different, and that is the challenge that I find most exciting and rewarding about my profession.
Charlotte Bishop is a certified Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) and president of Creative Case Management, Inc., a company she founded in 1991. CCM, Inc. is a team of certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families throughout most of Illinois. Charlotte Bishop holds the following certifications: MS, GCM, CRC, CCM, CDMS, LCPC.
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