Geriatric Care Management, By Victoria Savage RN
(Victoria Savage is an RN with 11 years of experience specializing in Elder care and a passion for seniors that started in early childhood when her best friend was 82 year old Evelyn. She brings passion, knowledge and love to her practice and is fierce in her advocacy of the senior population.)
A while back I received a call from an elderly man of 92 who was still living on his own but felt that it might be time to get some help. He was given my name as someone who might be able to steer him in the right direction. After speaking to him for a few minutes I realized that this was not going to be a quick phone call.
Although he was very sharp I could definitely see some issues with his mentation. The gentleman was simply overwhelmed with his situation and what needed to be done. I made an appointment for later that day and went by a spent over an hour visiting with him. If ever there was someone who needed my services, it was him. I identified several areas of concern, one being that he was trying to tap into his long term care insurance to provide him with some funds for in-home care, but he was totally undone by the paper work which was really not too complicated. According to him this was supposed to have been put into place 2 months prior. He still had the paperwork his MD needed to fill out as well as his own and he just had not been able to get it done. He also had some financial disparities with Social Security who had apparently just stopped paying him and he didn’t know why. He reported that he had received a letter a few months earlier but didn’t know what it was about. Even though he knew he needed help, and could definitely afford the services, he simply could not make the decision to employ a care manager. I found myself wishing once again that I could offer my services free of charge. I still think of him and call him on occasion just to check on him. He really got to me.
This brings me to the topic of this weeks’ article.
What is a Geriatric Care Manager and do I or my aging family member need one? Let me start by asking a few questions.
- Have you or a loved one ever been in the hospital and felt like you weren’t being listened to, or than you didn’t know the right things to ask or what was reasonable to expect?
- Have you ended up in ER and wondered if you or your loved one should be receiving different or better services?
- Have you ever left your doctor’s office and then remembered something that you needed to tell, or ask them but forgot? Have you ever wondered what it was that they told you to do and either didn’t understand it or forgot most of it by the time you got home?
- Have you ever been faced with healthcare related decisions and felt overwhelmed and under prepared to make all the decisions you needed to?
- Do you have senior family members that live in another city who need someone to watch out for them and you don’t know where to turn to find that help? Do you wonder if their physician is receiving all the necessary information to make the right decisions regarding their care? Do you wish you could have a report on what really happened at the MD’s office?
- Are you or your senior family member facing care decisions that are mind boggling and you feel like you could use some help navigating the health care system?
- Do you have a senior family member who is clearly in need of some help to stay in their own home as long as possible but you’re unsure how to make that happen?
- Do you wonder if all the medications you or your family member is taking are necessary?
- Is your family member in a facility like an assisted living or long term care center and you feel like they are not receiving the care they deserve?
All of the above situations and a multitude of others are addressed by Geriatric Care Managers.
On a daily basis as I attend doctor’s appointments with my clients, including my very sharp minded clients, it is necessary for me to fill in the blanks for the physician. Things a non-healthcare person either fails to see as important, or just forgets can make a huge difference in the course of treatment (and its effectiveness) settled on by the physician.
As I have accompanied clients to ER after a fall resulting in a great deal of discomfort, either from a broken hip, a broken pelvis or dislocated or broken shoulder, I have too often seen the clients pain discounted and it has been necessary for me to step in and be their advocate in order to get them adequate pain medication in a timely manner.
When faced with the reality that living on their own is becoming more difficult, getting information on all the options available to them is very often a daunting task and can seem quite overwhelming. Having access to someone who understands the system and the different options available can make all the difference in the world.
Geriatric Care Managers can also assist them in being able to stay in their own home much longer than without this service.
Having a nurse on call 24/7 is another advantage to employing a Geriatric Care Manager. Many times situations that might result in an unnecessary ER visit can be avoided with the help and advice of a nurse to come check the client and make phone calls to their physician knowing the appropriate things to say and questions to ask.
So this in a nutshell, is what Geriatric Care Managers do. We assist our clients to stay in their own homes as long as it is safely possible, and help them identify when it is no longer in their best interest, and then assist them to find appropriately placement and make the transition.
If any of the above rings true for you or your family member, you might consider calling a Geriatric Care Manager for advice and direction.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call or email Victoria Savage at Care for Living.
The topic for my next article is Aging Skin, why it’s changing and what can be done to protect it.