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2/27/2013Home Care News

Senior Specialties - Online: Care Management

   Moderated by Elaine AramaAdvantage Plus Caregivers

Private Care Managers

They serve as a liaison between the client, court, family, physician, therapist, insurance company, hospital, and other important systems that support the welfare of the person. A Care Manager coordinates, manages and carefully tailors options in order to meet individual needs. The Care Manager is focused on balancing cost and quality so that resources are used appropriately. Since many systems that clients have to work with are fragmented and complex, the care manager must have a broad-base of knowledge including: medical, financial, social work, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why might I need a Geriatric Care Manager?

Sometimes called case managers, elder care managers, service coordinators or care coordinators, Care Managers are specialists in assisting older people and their families to plan for and implement ways to allow for the greatest degree of independence, safety and comfort and quality of life. They meet with families, assess the client's needs, and develop a comprehensive care plan with input from caregivers, professionals, and others. They then assist with any appointments, interviews, and other paperwork necessary to implement the care plan and make all preparations for any needed in-home care or arrangements for a transition to a facility. They review all care options clearly and discuss them with the family. 

Care Managers can be especially helpful to those who are new to elder care or uncomfortable with elder care decision-making; are having difficulty with any aspect of elder care; are faced with a sudden decision or major change, such as a health crisis or a change of residence and those who are dealing with a complex situation such as a psychiatric, cognitive, health, legal, or social issue.  Care Managers can then also effectively follow up, review and assess the care being given and report to family members to make sure that the their loved ones are getting the highest quality of care.


How can a Care Manager help an elder person get all the services they need and benefits to which they are entitled?

Most people are unaware of what benefits they should be receiving, or how to interact with the system to obtain the best services for their situation.  Great Care Managers knows this system inside and out and can advocate for you or your loved ones to receive the highest and most compassionate levels of care obtainable and all services that your health insurance promises.  Care Managers work with "case managers" from insurance companies, discharge planners, in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, administrators of nursing homes and retirement communities, and with home care agencies to ensure that you receive the care you need and deserve.  Care Managers ensure that the needs of the client are foremost, rather than the needs of a facility or provider.


Aren't these services available for free through government agencies?

Social Service agencies offer limited services to indigent individuals who otherwise may receive no services at all. The very wealthy often have no trouble obtaining the care they need because they are used to asking for it and can afford to pay quite a bit for it.  If you are neither indigent nor extremely wealthy, often times your needs fall through the cracks. There are fewer follow-ups, very little outreach, and no service which is as comprehensive as what private care management can provide.


How does one begin?

After an initial telephone consultation - offered free of charge - an assessment is typically necessary for care managers to understand the environment that the older adult is living in, their level of functioning and their current support network. The assessment involves interviewing the older adult and family members, gathering relevant medical records, developing an individualized action plan and discussing the options with the older adult and caregivers.


Is the scope of this assessment limited?

Qualified Care Managers are trained to evaluate all aspects of an older person's life, including legal, financial, home safety, nutritional, medical, and housing issues. An in-depth assessment would include the client's physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental strengths, weaknesses and concerns. The goal of the assessment is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the support required to assist older adults in functioning as independently and with the highest quality of life.


How do I know if I can afford private care management services?

Many people believe they cannot afford private care management when they really can. Care Managers have helped clients save thousands of dollars by recouping insurance monies, applying for assistance programs, recommending better health insurance plans, and using other cost-effective measures while still providing the highest quality care. Investing in your elder's care through care management services is often the best thing you could do for them, and for you. Not only will you save money in the long run, you will save valuable and precious time and worry that can exhaust your non-financial resources or interfere with your job or occupation.


I'm worried that my parent can no longer live alone safely. What can I do?

You should share your concerns with your parent and remain open to considering many possible solutions to this problem, including at-home solutions. Perhaps some help in the house, meal delivery services or an emergency response system could enhance your parent's ability to continue living at home. If your parent is feeing unsafe, they may be open to considering a new living arrangement. Unless your parent is in immediate danger, the process of selecting a new home should be a careful process. 


Eldercare and Medicare - Will Medicare pay for my elder's in-home services?

Medicare pays for very limited home healthcare services: primarily skilled care like nursing services or physical, occupational or speech therapy. It is a requirement that such care help the patient recover function following an illness or hospitalization and only is continued as long as the patient makes progress and is substantially house-bound. Medicare will pay for a small amount of help with activities of daily living (such as bathing and eating) for a limited time if the patient also is receiving skilled care. 


My spouse has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Is it possible to care for him/her at home?

Yes, most people with Alzheimer's disease can be cared for at home. It is essential for you to consider that your loved one may have Alzheimer's for many years and the disease will gradually worsen. Caring for a person with Alzheimer's is a marathon, not a sprint. Find enough help so that you can pace yourself for the long term. Caregivers who are unable to do this burn out or develop their own health problems. The Alzheimer's Association offers support and information through its local chapters, and your local Area Agency on Aging can offer referrals for other support services.


What if my parent is terminally ill but does not want to die in a hospital or nursing home? Can Hospice Care help?

Caring for a seriously ill loved one at home can be intimidating and overwhelming. Most of us have no experience or training in caring for an ill person at home. Adding to our sense of overwhelming responsibility is the rapid advance of technology, which has made the array of home-based medical interventions bewildering.

There is little doubt that, when families commit to caring for a seriously ill loved one at home, they face many challenges. These families also benefit from additional support, especially the comprehensive, holistic support offered by hospice. Hospice care is care that addresses the needs (physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological, social, financial, and legal) of a dying person and his or her family. Under certain circumstances, Medicare will pay for hospice care in the home.


Healthcare documents - What do I need?

Everyone should have a basic will, a durable power of attorney, a living will or advance directive and a healthcare proxy statement. Care Managers can assist you with these obtaining these necessary documents and provide recommendations for elder law attorneys if needed.


My parents need help, but won't accept it. How can you help?

It's common for an older person to initially resist outside help. Care Managers have the skills needed to develop rapport even with difficult clients. Care Managers will be able to suggest several different approaches to overcoming a parent's objections.


Who else uses a Care Manager?

Families who live at a distance rely on Care Managers to provide a trusted link to their elder parents. Attorneys may use the services of a Care Manager for a professional assessment of complex clinical situation in a home care facility or in the community. Trust officers find that a Care Manager plays a key part in a professional assessment to assure the provision of well-targeted, cost-effective care for the elder. Physicians, and other health care professionals welcome the specialized individual services that a Care Manager can offer to the elder and families a means to prevent clinical crises and avoid unnecessary hospitalization.


How else can professional geriatric care management save me money?

Care Managers can help you save money in several ways. First, they can help to plan effectively for the future, and assist in avoiding a crisis. Second, care managers can often arrange for services to be delivered in an older adult's home rather than requiring a costly move to a retirement or nursing facility. Third, because care managers are aware of both the needs of older adults and the available resources, they can be efficient in matching service needs with appropriate agencies. Also, you can hire a care manager for a single, specific task, such as helping you find a daily caregiver, or to oversee the entire caregiving process.


Ask a Senior Care Manager a question?

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Ellen Makenna joined the group Senior Specialties: Case Management.
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013
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Posted Thursday, January 17, 2013
Richard Weatherman joined the group Senior Specialist Group: Case Management.
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2013

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