Question of the Day on "What exactly can a care manager do for my elderly mother who lives alone in her home? Our family is considering hiring a geriatric care manager for Mom, but we aren’t sure of the benefits or the costs for these services. Please advise."

Answer:  We educate, evaluate, navigate, advocate–

We are very good at preventing complicated crisis that can create an unnecessary decline in function for the elder. So many older adults want to stay in their home and with various levels of support this is achievable. In fact, many older adults do well with “Assisted Living at Home”-which is what the Care Manager creates with the family and the elder as part of the team. 

If the finances do not allow the elder to remain at home with health care, the Care Manager can help select a community for the elder and teach the family how to secure the best and most appropriate services within the facility. We can also file for appropriate benefits that will assist in paying for that care. 

We teach families how to “navigate” the health care system—It is widely believed that the health care system is fragmented-hospital care, nursing home care, assisted living care, home care—so many systems to understand and effectively navigate. We help select facilities and then help the family work within the system for the benefit of their loved one. An important component is what services are covered by Medicare and what services become the responsibility of the parent. 

Some families can’t agree on what to do for their parent. Care Managers provide an objective view and help the families come to an agreement on a plan of care. 

Some families simply don’t know what to do and need advice, guidance and direction throughout this stage of their parent’s life. 

It’s hard to put this into words, but there is frequently a level of anxiety that is present in a child with an aging parent. There are so many unknowns, and uncertainty in helping the parent.  We are able to help lower anxiety by providing helpful information and resources that make this a meaningful time for both the child and the parent. 

There is more—Let me list other services Care Managers offer: 

  • Accompany on Dr. appointments providing the physician a written summary of the status of the elder;
  • Help ensure compliance with Drs. Orders (Changes in medication, labs needed etc.);
  • Communicate with family members after a Drs. Appointment;
  • Make appropriate Drs. Appointments-streamline appts for the elder;
  • Securing services at home when requested or desired-physician care, lab, x-ray, podiatry-;
  • Prevent hospitalizations-frequent hospitalizations can often be caused by poor nutrition, hydration, non compliance with medications, falls—all preventable situations;
  • Communicate with families at a distance as to how things are going with parent;
  • Conduct family meetings via conference calls;
  • Twenty four hour emergency support-if something happens to a parent, we meet at the hospital and advocate for the elder in the hospital;
  • If a move to a facility is needed-can help select a facility appropriate to the elders’ budget, location and personality;
  • Help the elder stay at home and stay independent as long as possible with the coordination and supervision of companion or home health aide staff;
  • Secure benefits to pay for care;
  • Understanding Medicare, Medicare HMO’s, Medicare D, Long Term Care Insurance, and discovering other little known benefits that help pay for care. 

I hope this isn’t overwhelming, but I believe we provide such a valuable supportive service to the elder and their families it is difficult to stop with one line or two.

Hourly fees range from $85.00 – $250. per hour depending on the area of the country. Assessment fees range from $450.00-$1,200.

Amy Cameron O’Rourke, MPH, CMC
The Cameron Group
Orlando, Florida  32803
Member of the ElderCare Matters Alliance, Florida chapter

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