Keep your sanity! 

When to hire a geriatric case manager

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Travel the hill-country called aging and soon you’ll find it fraught with confusion. So, if you care for an elderly loved one, it helps to have a guide – otherwise known as a geriatric case manager. They’re a map for all things aging.

Find out what case managers do, when you need one, and how to hire one.

What are geriatric case managers?

The terms geriatric case manager, care manager, or care coordinator are mostly interchangeable. More recently, they go by Aging Life Care Managers. These professionals are usually registered nurses or social workers trained in gerontology.

You’re most likely to work with a case manager in these settings:

  • a hospital,
  • medical clinic,
  • nursing home,
  • home health agency,
  • hospice agency
  • bereavement programs,
  • and, private practice.

What do case managers do?

Case managers’ duties depends in part on where they work. But there’s a lot of overlap. Basically, case managers act as advocates. They assess an elder’s needs and then design an individualized care plan. Also, it’s their job to know the resources available in the area and how to access those services.

Hospital case managers...

  • coordinate insurance utilization/coverage.
  • assist patients along the continuum of care from inpatient to home.
  • help plan and coordinate the hospital discharge. They order medications, equipment, follow-up services, and transportation.
  • set up services for after the hospital stay (like nursing rehab, home health, schedule follow-u visits with primary doctor, and more).
  • they work to meet complex patient needs.

Medical clinic case managers...

  • monitor a patient's long-term and complex health problems and treatment.
  • provide follow up to discover any barriers to success of care plan.
  • ensure patient's access to covered services.
  • serve as liaison between the doctors, staff, patient, and patient's family.
  • provide referrals to services and resources in the area.

Private practice clinic case managers...

  • assess and create a care plan for your elderly loved one.
  • submit written evaluations and updates on a regular basis.
    help family members maintain their roles (spouse, adult child, grandchild).
  •  act as an additional set of eyes and ears on an elder’s living situation.
  • handle difficult conversations; especially with complex care needs.
  • help families navigate complex or emotional issues.
  • ensure senior care facility staff follow the care plan.
  • help give caregivers, family members, and seniors peace of mind.
  •  address emotional concerns and worries.
  • hire and oversee caregivers and medical professionals.
  • act as problem solvers.
  • ensure access to services.
  • coordinate medical services among several agencies.
  • provide guidance with long-term and end-of-life care decisions.
  • coordinate services between facilities.

When is it smart to hire a case manager?

  1. If you live long distance or out of state, a case manager acts as your eyes and ears. They’re the boots-on-the-ground, stand-in relative. They can make sure your loved one receives the care they need and are paying for. You can put your mind at ease.
  2. Or, if you have a demanding job or family situation that takes up all your time and energy, consider hiring a case manager.
  3. When your elder’s medical care is complex with many co-morbidities, you could use a case manager. Juggling medications, equipment, appointments, follow-ups, and therapies can feel out of control. A case manager can help keep it all organized and advocate for you and your loved one.

    And sometimes, you just need a coach. Someone to help navigate all the decisions that come with aging and health issues. A third party with an objective viewpoint.

    Especially if you’re the primary caregiver. Your emotional and physical energy gets zapped. Then you run the risk of making poor decisions.

    It can make a difference in your own mental health to have someone in your corner. Someone for emotional support during a crisis. Someone to help guide tough conversations. Someone to be a sounding board. Someone to oversee the details. That someone can be a case manager. 

How much do private case managers charge for their services?

Private contract geriatric care managers charge by the hour. Rates vary by region. The initial assessment includes a full written report and care plan. Charges for an evaluation range from $250 - $750. Contracted hourly service rates range from $100 - $200 per hour.  

What if a private case manager isn't in your budget?

Senior advisors like me,​​ are an affordable option for finding help. They can evaluate your loved one’s care needs, preferences, and finances. And then give you referrals to senior care services, housing, and other resources. Often their services are free or low charge.

Have questions? Need referrals?

Call me or check out my Resource Page

Your elder’s medical clinic probably has a case manager. Ask them for referrals to services in the area. Just remember, they may not have personal up-to-date knowledge of senior housing options. But they are likely to have resource publications or magazines on hand.

Check with your local senior center. Many have social workers who can provide helpful information and referrals.

You can talk to an Information and Referral Specialists at the Aging & Disability Resource Connection (ADRC). This is a good place to get information about Medicaid and other low-income options.

How can you find and hire a private case manager?

It’s important to check the qualifications of a case manager or Aging Life Care Manager. Make sure they’re trained, certified, and licensed.

Case managers get extensive training in the areas of:

  • health and disabilities,
  • family dynamics,
  • senior housing,
  • local resources,
  • financial issues,
  • legal issues,
  • advocacy,
  • and crisis intervention. 
  1. You can search for a case manager in your area at the American Case Management Association website or Aging Life Care Association website.
  2. Ask for a referral from your senior advisor, attorney, clergy, doctor’s office, or hospital care management.

Other tips

Interview at least three. Find someone you think you’ll “click” with. Ask about their background and experience.

If you have a specific situation, ask them if they’ve dealt with something similar and how they approached it. Some situations might include family discord, dementia issues, mental health, or behavior problems.

Have a clear understanding of their contract, services, and charges.

Final words

It may seem impossible to care for the needs of both you and your loved one. There aren’t enough hours in the day. You find yourself feeling wrung out and emotionally empty. And the details just keep piling up.

But providing the best care doesn’t mean you must do it alone. Hire a geriatric case manager to help lift the burden. You’ll be glad you did.

Free Options Consultation

Wondering about senior housing and care? Is it right for you or your loved one? 

Sometimes it's hard to know. 

That’s why I offer a Free 1-hour consultation.

My Mom experienced post-operative delirium after a knee replacement surgery, and needed an assisted living facility because the doctors said she couldn't return home to Alaska. Our search was complicated because Mom had surgery and rehab in Tacoma, and we were looking for a place in Portland. The rehab facility there told us we had a week before Mom would be discharged, so we were under great time pressure, too!

Jennifer met with me and other family members in person right away. She listened carefully to our concerns and answered our many questions. She was available every day through the process and details. She toured facilities with us. She offered terrific insights.

She is very knowledgeable about the facilities in the Portland Metro area, has personal relationships with key personnel, points out pros and cons, and ultimately guides you to the best placement for your loved one.

Hannah Kuhn - Sept. 2019

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