Geriatric Care Managers coach families through end-of-life and eldercare planning before crisis hits.
What would it look like if we planned for the later portions of our lives with the effort and care that we planned the rest of our lives? The truth is, we live in a culture that is averse to talking about aging and our own mortality. As a result, entire generations of Americans are encountering the stressful reality head-on in the form of caring for aging parents in times of crisis. A parent falling or suddenly being discharged from the hospital can make life stand still and speed up all at the same time. Questions like, “who will help my husband while he gets back on his feet?”, “with mom and dad’s rapid decline, how am I going to pay their bills or make care decisions?”, or “are moving my parents into a nursing home or in with me my only options?” With a single event, you may feel thrust into the realm of eldercare having to make quick decisions while not knowing what you don’t know.
Professional Geriatric Care Managers across the nation are working family by family, to make a monumental shift in our culture, moving those conversations from the chaos of crisis to the comfort of home. The number one piece of advice adult children give to their younger selves is, “I wish I would have started discussing, saving, and planning EARLIER.” This systemic pattern of silence around a loved one aging and dying actually robs ourselves unnecessarily of future peace. While there is nothing like facing the problem firsthand to motivate you, the wave of baby boomers taking care of aging parents is exponentially growing and the opportunity for change is now.
So just how do Professional Geriatric Care Managers guide families through this process of dialogue and planning?
What Care Managers are Bringing to the Table
1. Options in Care. For many people, the image of a rundown and depressing facility for “old” people is burned into their mind. Negative comments and stigmas like, “putting someone away” exist in our lexicon for aging. However, this outdated imagery and language of aging is stopping real conversations in their tracks. Care Managers excel at balancing safety with quality of life for your loved one and will present options in care that align with their wishes, values, and desires for the later portions of their lives. Their care plans address the whole person, from their physical care needs, to their financial parameters, to their mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
2. Neutral Ally- A Care Manager outside the family can act as a neutral party in the situation. Often it is easier to take direction from a professional, even if the same recommendations are made by the family. Aging adults who have an ally in their corner, listening to them, advocating for their wishes, and presenting them with options can provide enormous sense of comfort, control, and empowerment and move decisions forward.
3. Navigate the Healthcare System. Care Managers are a huge ally in breaking down a complicated list of to-do’s into manageable pieces. Whether it is discussing the healthcare aspects of future planning, such as setting up a durable power of attorney and advanced directives, or applying for Medicare and Long-Term Care Insurance, Care Managers have guided many families through the complicated paperwork that comes with eldercare planning.
4. Advocate for Quality Care. A Care Manager with a healthcare background can act as a wonderful advocate for your loved one as doctor’s appointments and medications increase. They often liaison between all the healthcare professionals and families to make sure loved ones receive the best quality care, and to make sure families are remaining informed and understand their loved ones’ condition. At every step, a care manager can advocate for a loved one’s wishes and values to be carried out in the care they receive.
5. Problem-Solving. Complicated family dynamics, high physical needs, or complex wishes from a loved one may overwhelm a family having the discussion on their own, but the creative and informed problem-solving skills of a care manger can move the dialogue forward with out of the box ideas, suggestions, and mediation tools.
6. Long-Distance Support- As families are living more and more spread out from one another, your loved one may live in another state or across the country. You may experience panic and guilt and at times feel torn between your responsibilities to your own family, work, and your far away loved one. A care manager can ensure your parent or loved one receives the best suited care on your behalf. As your eyes and ears, we can provide consistent communication and eldercare coaching over the phone for further guidance and emotional support.
Sound Options is inviting you and your family to our table, to be surrounded by compassionate experts in eldercare to begin the conversation BEFORE crisis hits. Here, we can build the vision your loved one has for the rest of their life, begin to dialogue about the values and wises they would like to drive their care, and grow a future plan out of what is most important to them.
Published on January 31, 2013.