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Caring For An Elder From Far Away:
Geriatric Care Managers
by Terry Weaver, M.P.S., A.C.C.
As an adult, balancing work and
elder care can be a challenge whether your parent lives
next door or out of state. Add children to this, and the
situation becomes compounded. Legal, financial and
long-term planning for elder care is crucial, and long
distance caregivers need to prepare for travel and time
off from work. Face the facts, most older adults want to
stay right where they are. They do not want to relocate,
even if it means being closer to family. If this is what
the elder wishes, as the child, you must respect their
For people who work and care for an aged family member,
(particularly when that family member lives far away),
one solution is to hire a professional geriatric care
manager. A geriatric care manager is a professional who
specializes in assisting older people and their families
with long-term care arrangements. Care managers have a
minimum of a bachelor's degree or substantial equivalent
training in gerontology, social work, nursing,
counseling, psychology or a related field.
Prolonged illness, disability or simply the challenges
of aging can significantly alter the lifestyle of older
adults. Daily responsibilities can become difficult.
Efficient coordination of medical, personal and social
service resources can enhance the quality of life for
older adults and their caregivers.
Geriatric care mangers assist older adults in
maintaining their independence at home and can ease the
transition to a new setting, if needed. Geriatric care
managers also help:
Conduct care planning assessments to identify problems,
eligibility for assistance, and need for services.
Review financial, legal, or medical issues and offer
referrals to geriatric specialists to avoid future
problems and conserve assets.
Act as a liaison to families at a distance, making sure
things are going well and alerting families to problems.
Assist with moving an older person to or from a
retirement complex, assisted living facility, or nursing
Offer counseling and support.
How do you know when it is time to
call a professional? Look for these signs:
Is your loved one losing weight for no known reason? Do
Is the home unkempt and becoming unsafe? How are meals
made? Who pays the bills?
Are they able to(and do they) maintain a neat
appearance? Has drinking become a problem?
Is it safe for your parents to drive? If not, who does
the driving for them?
Has there been a sudden memory loss or increased
Of course in order to answer these questions, youíll
have to pay a visit to your long distance loved one, or
rely on information from a relative or friend who is
close to that loved one. There is no reason to feel
guilty about being far away as long as you are doing
everything that you can to help.