Do You Need a Geriatric Care Manager?

A Geriatric Care Manager provides guidance and support to older adults and their families.

Navigating eldercare can be like trying to solve a complex puzzle with pieces scattered everywhere. This is where a geriatric care manager, sometimes known as a life care manager, steps in. They’re like your personal guide through the maze of caring for an aging loved one, making sure every piece fits just right. Let’s dive into what a geriatric or life care manager does, why they’re a game-changer in eldercare, and how they can bring peace of mind to families and older adults alike.

What is a Geriatric (Life) Care Manager?

A geriatric care manager, often referred to as a life care manager, is a bit like a superhero in the world of eldercare. With a background in fields like nursing, social work, or mental health, they’re equipped to tackle a wide range of challenges that come with aging. Their mission? To ensure older adults receive holistic care that covers not just their medical needs but their overall quality of life.

What Care Managers Do?

Let’s paint a common scenario to help you understand a care manager’s role. Picture this: Your grandpa has several health issues that need regular attention. A geriatric or life care manager would coordinate his medical appointments, manage his medication, and even help modify his home to make it safer. But their role doesn’t stop with medical care. They’re also there to manage his daily care and ensure he’s thriving in his daily life, from social activities to personal hobbies, and sometimes even personal finances.

General Services Offered

While the job description of a care manager can vary from company to company, here are some things care managers might assist with:

  • Housing – providing information and helping families evaluate and select housing options
  • Home Care Services – determining services that are appropriate and assisting to engage and monitor those services
  • Medical Management – communicating with healthcare providers, attending doctor appointments, advocating for treatment or medication changes, and, if appropriate, monitoring client’s adherence to medical orders
  • Communication – keeping family members and professionals informed on status and providing helpful resources
  • Social Activities – providing opportunities for client to socially engage in social, recreational, or cultural programs and activities that enrich quality of life
  • Legal – referring to or consulting with an elder law attorney
  • Financial – reviewing or overseeing bill paying or monitoring daily money management
  • Safety and Security – monitoring client; recommending technologies to add security or safety; observing changes and potential risks of exploitation or abuse
  • Long-distance Care – coordinating care when families live at a distance, including crisis management

Care Management vs Case Management: What’s the Difference?

While ‘care manager’ and ‘case manager’ are terms often used interchangeably, they’re not quite the same. A case manager typically handles specific medical cases, focusing on healthcare services. A geriatric or life care manager, however, takes a more holistic approach, considering all aspects of an older adult’s life, including long-term care, emotional well-being, and daily lifestyle.

Put simply, case management deals with things like medical treatment patients receive for chronic conditions or a specific health incident, while care management is focused on the person’s whole life.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU NEED A CARE MANAGER?

You may need assistance if:

  • The person you are caring for has limited or no family support or family lives at a distance.
  • Your family has just become involved and needs direction about available services.
  • The person you are caring for has multiple medical issues or dementia.
  • The person you are caring for is unable to live safely in his/her current environment.
  • Your family is “burned out” or has limited time to deal with your loved ones’ chronic care needs.
  • Your family is at odds regarding care decisions or confused about options.
  • The person you are caring for is not pleased with current care providers and requires advocacy.
  • The person you are caring for is confused about his/her own financial and/or legal situation.
  • Your family needs education and/or direction in dealing with behaviors associated with dementia.

A Real-Life Example

Though the individual named here is fictitious, the details of the situation are not. Consider Mrs. Larson, an 85-year-old with mobility issues. Her children, busy with their own lives, were struggling to manage her care. None of them were local to Mrs. Larson, and managing daily care for their mother had become difficult at best.  The children enlisted the help of a life care manager. She stepped in, organizing in-home care, setting up transportation for her appointments, and even connecting her with local community activities. This not only improved Mrs. Larson’s quality of life but also gave her family much-needed relief and assurance.

The moral of the story? Care management is sometimes difficult for families to navigate on their own. This can compromise health care, cause care needs to be unmet, and ultimately lead to negative health outcomes. A care manager provides families with another option for managing care.

Care management is a relatively new profession and is not currently licensed through the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. To learn more, go to AgingLifeCare.org.

Finding the Right Care Manager

When you’re considering a care manager for your family, what’s the best way to find the right match? First, you want someone who’s not just qualified on paper but also clicks with your loved one. Look for a care manager with a solid eldercare background and a heart for understanding and compassion.

Now, while care management isn’t regulated by state or federal laws, many states in the U.S. do require care managers to have a license. This is something to keep in mind during your search.

To help you find a local care manager, the Aging Life Care Association offers a handy zip code search on their website. Not every geriatric care manager is part of this association, but those who are show a dedication to high-quality care. Think of association membership as a bonus point when you’re weighing your options!

While there are costs associated with hiring a care manager, many families find that the benefits are well worth the investment.

To Sum it Up

In essence, a geriatric or life care manager is a cornerstone in providing comprehensive, compassionate care for an aging loved one. They bring together various aspects of care, from health to emotional support, ensuring that older adults not only receive the care they need but also enjoy the quality of life they deserve. For families, having a geriatric or life care manager on board means having a trusted partner in providing quality care.


Disclaimer: The content on this site is meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend consulting experts for specific guidance. We are not responsible for any decisions made based on this information.

Liz Craven
Liz Craven

Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide alongside her husband Wes, brings a blend of personal experience and heartfelt dedication to her work. Their path in eldercare started with a family story — caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who faced Alzheimer's. This personal chapter not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also ignited their passion to support others in similar situations. Later, Liz and Wes filled the caregiver role three more times for their parents. Through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, Liz offers a mix of empathetic insight and practical advice, making eldercare more approachable and less daunting for families. Her commitment shines through in every piece of advice, aiming to ease the journey for others as they navigate the world of eldercare.

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