Getting Help To Care For Mom And Dad
After being treated for a stroke, your widowed mother is ready to be released from the hospital. You don’t think she can return to living on her own, but traveling across the country to live with you is also out of the question. You need to find the right kind of rehabilitation facility. The hospital social worker has recommendations, but can you trust her?
As more and more baby boomers find themselves caring for their parents, some are discovering qualified, objective advice from a relatively new source-a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM). With training in gerontology, social work, nursing, or counseling, a local GCM knows the cost, quality, and availability of services in your community and can help your family make prudent choices to care for parents.
"I tour the facility and talk to staff, review the state's grading system, and complete a financial background check to make sure the company isn't about to go bankrupt," says Francis A. Regan, a GCM in Boston.
Geriatric care managers conduct care-planning assessments to identify problems, evaluate your loved one's eligibility for government assistance, and even screen, arrange, and monitor in-home help. By matching services to clients' needs, they help contain costs. A geriatric care manager can also serve as a liaison for family members living at a distance, letting them know how things are going and alerting them about problems. Some care managers also provide family or individual therapy or guardianship assistance.
Emotions, flare-ups among siblings, and resentment between parents and children can boil over when making decisions about caring for Mom or Dad. Financial, geograph-ical and logistical complications cause clashes that an outside objective expert can defuse with clear thinking, communication, and a dedication of time to solve a problem.
Before hiring a GCM, thoroughly check the background and qualifications of several candidates after speaking or meeting with them. Many GCMs are former social workers, therapists, nurses, or health-care administrators, but anyone can use the GCM title, even if they have no formal training or experience. Find out whether the person you're considering belongs to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (www.caremanager.org) and is licensed in his or her profession. The association's website also includes information about what geriatric care managers do, and offers care management resources and assistance in finding a geriatric care manager.
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