managing your time pretty well—things are tight and
there are activities you would like to add to your
schedule, like a yoga class or a new hobby, but you just
can’t juggle one more thing.
something happens that is about to add a huge
responsibility to your already overloaded schedule –
there is a crisis with your elderly parent or relative.
The crisis might involve your mom or dad falling and
breaking a hip, rear-ending another driver, getting
pneumonia, or wandering away and, this time, can’t find
their way back home.
How do you find
the time to add one more thing to a schedule that is
already full? How do you take time away from your job or
taking care of your own children? You are determined to
take care of your parent the same way that they took
care of you, but how? Feeling overwhelmed, or giving
into a meltdown, is not the only alternative.
frustrated; get help to deal with this new complex
situation. With more than 80 percent of elder care (an
average 71 hours a week) provided by family members, an
emerging field of geriatric experts known as
professional care managers have sprung up to help.
When faced with
helping your aging parents make decisions about their
future, making sense of the information and wading
through the options can be frustrating. Getting an
outside perspective from a geriatric care manager can
help assess your parent’s needs, identify things you may
not have considered and create a care plan with possible
options and recommendations.
with extensive education and experience in elder care,
geriatric care managers are skilled at assessing the
level of help seniors need, changes that should be
implemented now or in the future, and scheduling needed
care services. Care managers can also identify helpful
community resources, monitor needs and be an ongoing
source of information.
Complicated Family Dynamics
finding it a frustrating task to talk to your parent
about closing off the upstairs of their home to prevent
falls, installing bath safety equipment, giving up the
car keys, or wearing an ID bracelet for those walks
around the block, you’re not alone. Elderly parents
often find it humiliating to transition to receiving
advice, direction or physical care from their own
children. But in the same arena, a professional outsider
can step up to the plate and do it with panache.
starts with a level playing field that creates a feeling
of equality for the elderly. Your parent may feel more
comfortable speaking of sensitive areas with someone
outside of family dynamics. At the very least, the
elderly are more likely to accept suggestions from a
third party with a listening ear. To your benefit, the
geriatric care manager will present a view to your
parent that is unbiased by your personal stress,
emotionally-charged worry, and any unconscious agendas.
When Kansas City
business owner Betsy Stewart’s elderly dad suffered a
stroke two years ago and returned to his own home, she
was worried about his safety. But when she tried to talk
to him about it or make suggestions, he brushed off her
“To him, I was just his child and
not someone he was going to take advice from,” said
Stewart sought the help of a
geriatric care manager and was amazed at the difference.
outsider be the one to make recommendations and talk to
my dad about potential safety issues was instrumental in
getting my dad to cooperate. The care manager built
trust and established a rapport with him and got him
laughing right off the bat. By the end, he trusted her
judgment and cooperated with all her recommendations.
Additionally, the care manager pointed things out to me
that I hadn’t thought about – such as potential safety
hazards in the home – and provided information on
to The Experts
Just as you
might delegate tasks at home or work to those with
proven expertise, take the same approach when it comes
to determining a plan for your parent’s future. Seek
expertise from a proven professional and you’ll know
that you’re getting information you can count on while
avoiding costly mistakes from trying to figure it out on
With a geriatric care manager,
you’ll get inside knowledge on everything from local
facilities, in-home services, and where to find medical
equipment and supplies to unadvertised benefits entitled
by various associations—local (such as Alzheimer’s
Association) or national (such as Veterans). Most of
all, their encouraging support will allow you to
continue the routine of your daily life while staying
fully involved with your parent’s aging experience. With
a geriatric care manager, your time with mom or dad
becomes bonding time, not time trying to haggle over
what to do next.
Do you want
flexibility to manage your day, putting priority on the
important instead of the urgent? Do you want to prepare
for the unexpected ahead of time? Do you want to work
smarter, not harder? Do you want to enjoy your time with
your parents without frustrating arguments and
exhausting power struggles?
geriatric care manager to help you set up a strategic
plan organizing and implementing the care your parent
needs. They will help you fulfill your own needs to be
involved as closely as possible while maintaining your
own personal and professional obligations. Whether you
need help for a day, a few months or a few years, let
decisions about the care of the people you love most be
guided by someone who’s been there before.
geriatric care managers are experts at wading through
the decisions and for a reasonable hourly fee, can open
you to a world of options. Their professional
suggestions are based on broad experience, understanding
of geriatric issues and most of all, the needs of your
When you decide
to seek help from a professional care manager, you’ll
get the answers you are looking for, plenty of options,
and the emotional support you need.
If you are
asking yourself the following questions, a geriatric
care manager might be the answer:
- Are my
parents safe in their home?
bills being paid on time?
my parents be driving?
- Are my
parents’ health concerns taking me away from my
the problems that my parents are facing becoming
larger and more complex than I can comfortably
kind of help would increase safety while maintaining
my parents’ dignity and independence?
kinds of assistance can my parents afford?
local resources might my parents benefit from?
(Adapted from the National
Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers)
- Find a
Geriatric Care Manager
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care
Managers website www.caremanager.org for a searchable
database of reputable national care managers.
Smith is the president of Kansas City Home Care, Inc.
She is a gerontologist and a long-standing member of the
National Association of Professional Care Managers
(GCM), past president of the Midwest Chapter of GCM and
a founding member of the National Private Duty
Association. For more information, call 913-341-4800 or
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