Navigating the Healthcare Maze: The Role of a Care Manager

 

Meet Charles, a 59 year-old business executive who is moving and shaking in his field. Charles came to us concerned about his father who was 80 with an active mind, a love for sailing, and a broken hip. Charles’s father had fallen on the boat dock the week prior and was going to be discharged from the hospital into the care of an adult child who was overwhelmed with work and frightened for his dad. Quite frankly Charles didn’t know what he didn’t know.

We see this story play out many times among our families, but what is consistent throughout these stories is the steep learning curve that comes with managing the healthcare and well-being of an aging loved one. Many enter the healthcare system confident of what needs to be done, but the further they travel from point A the more convoluted and obscure point B becomes. Needless to say when your Geriatric Care Manager comes through the door of the hospital room, our clients and their family take a breath of relief, knowing they are not alone, and they don’t have to know it all.

Geriatric Care Management is a fairly new profession to enter the healthcare scene, but it is revolutionizing the way that families think about and address elder care needs. In 5 distinct ways, it is changing the way that families navigate the healthcare maze.

No. 1: Frugal Planner: Care Managers Save Families Money by: 

  • Taking loved ones to appointments to reduce missed work for adult children
  • Helping families understand options in care that are cost effective long-term solutions.
  • Providing preventative care and supporting client’s lifestyle to better manage chronic illnesses
  • Articulating client’s wishes for care to ensure unwanted procedures/services are not used.
  • Ensuring the client is getting proper entitlements
  • Assisting with acquiring and billing Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Assisting family in applying for Medicare and understanding their coverage

No. 2: Advocate: Care Managers Advocate for Clients by: 

  • Asking the right questions at the doctor appointments
  • Monitoring and updating doctors on medications. CM’s can often reduce unnecessary medications or dosages simply by asking doctors the right questions.
  • Translating medical jargon and acting as a liaison between the many doctors and professional involved.
  • Advocating in the hospital with doctors, nurses, and family. They are present when family is long-distance or on vacation.

No. 3: Educator: Care Managers Educate Families by: 

  • Helping families understand and assess the needs of a loved one.
  • Providing one-on-one education for family caregivers on diseases such as dementia to better anticipate its progression and help with communication, etc.
  • Advising on options in care that will maximize quality of life for their loved one.

No.4: Health & Medication Manager: Care Managers Coordinate Care by: 

  • Monitoring changes in behavior/ quality of life and adapting care to changing needs. They provide a neutral professional eye that is seeing the individual on a regular basis.
  • Filling medication sets for the week and advising doctors on any problem symptoms, or changes.
  • Encouraging lifestyle changes such as healthy diet and appropriate exercise to maintain health and reduce risks of illness, injury, or falls.
  • Setting up appropraite services to meet physical, mental, spiritual, and social needs. 
  • Scheduling doctor appointments, treatments, or needed tests and arranging transportation.  

No. 5: Guide Through the Paperwork: Care Managers Assist with Paperwork by: 

  • Gathering appropriate medical and legal paperwork to prepare before a crisis hits.
  • Talking to family members about decisions they will need to make and how to navigate a family meeting. They can act as a neutral mediator for group family meetings.
  • Helping families address needed documents such as:
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • POLST
  • Living Will
  • Record of Passwords
  • Personal Identifying Info for Emergencies
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Medicare Benefits

Saving Families Time, Money, Stress, & Fear

Whether you gradually take on responsibilities for helping an aging parent, or like Charles, are thrust into the role in a crisis, helping an aging parent or loved one can quickly become a consuming responsibility. Relationships, health, and general balance in your life can suffer. A solution for many families is to put a Professional Geriatric Care Manager at the helm of their healthcare needs. By taking the burden off of the adult children, this allows family to just be family. If your situation needs a frugal planner, an advocate, educator, health manager, and a guide through the paperwork, help is a phone call away. You can find a local Certified Geriatric Care Manager anywhere in the United States at www.CareManager.org.

In the Puget Sound Region, we have been giving families Sound Options in care since 1989. Our elite team of RN and MSW Geriatric Care Managers and Certified Nursing Assistants take a holistic approach to meeting the intricate web of needs and wishes of our individual clients. Customized services include Geriatric Care Management, Eldercare Coaching, and In-Home Care. Find us online at www.SoundOptions.com or give us a call at 800.628.7649. 

 

 

 

Published on September 26, 2013.