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A resource for the “sandwich generation” – by Allison Payne

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We are pleased to have Allison Payne return as our guest author this week in celebration of National Aging Life Care Month. We work with many people who are part of the “sandwich generation,” simultaneously caring for their children and acting as caregivers for their aging parents. We very much appreciate Allison’s insight on an often overlooked resource. At AWMI, we believe in the importance of assembling a team of advisors who are experts in their respective fields and strive to work cooperatively with a client’s team to deliver outstanding service.

Cathie Straub, CFP®
Director, APCM Wealth Management for Individuals


A geriatric care manager (GCM), also known as a care coordinator or an “Aging Life Care Professional,” can help monitor and coordinate all the pieces of the caregiving puzzle to lighten the load on family caregivers. There are government programs, charities, and nonprofits that might be able to help, but what caregivers often need most is sound advice, regular respite, and an extra set of hands.

GCMs are skilled in using a client-centered approach for healthcare management, finding and maximizing resources for seniors, and coordinating transitional care. This is especially beneficial for busy and long-distance caregivers. A GCM will devise a comprehensive senior care plan for the family and physicians to follow while providing expert guidance and keeping an eye on an aging loved one. This helps prevent caregiver burnout and maximizes a loved one’s functional ability and quality of life.

Similar to financial advisors, not all care managers have the same education credentials and expertise. The care managers who achieve the Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA) certification have met stringent education, experience, and requirements of the organization. All ALCA members are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice. A care manager is typically educated in relevant fields such as gerontology, nursing, psychology and social work, and they can lend their expertise to families who are overwhelmed with the caregiving process and/or a loved one’s chronic illness. Depending on each care manager’s background, they can offer their clients a wide range of services: 

Health and Disability
From physical to mental health and dementia-related problems, a GCM interacts with the health care system effectively and frequently. They attend doctor’s appointments and facilitate communication between doctor, client, and family, organize records and assist the client and their caregiver(s) in adhering to medical orders. GCM’s help determine types of service – including home health and hospice – that are right for a client and assist in engaging and monitoring those services.

Legal
A GCM typically does not have first-hand legal experience, but can consult with or refer their clients to a local elder law attorney for guidance and necessary documents. They will also advocate for a client’s care and well-being across all care settings. Some Aging Life Care Professionals provide expert opinion for courts in determining level of care and establishing client needs.

Financial
They can assist a financial power of attorney (POA) with bill paying and budgeting, provide information on Federal and state entitlements, and connecting families to local programs when appropriate. They can also help clients and families with insurance concerns, claims and applications.

Social/Recreational
Since a GCM’s primary objective is their client’s quality of life, they can also focus on finding opportunities for social involvement and recreational activities in their area. Aging Life Care Professionals know the local resources in their communities like the back of their hands and know how services are accessed.

Family
Facilitates team work and communication in the execution of a loved one’s care plan. They help families adjust, cope, and problem-solve around long distance and in-home caregiving, addressing care concerns, internal conflicts, and differences of opinion about long-term care planning.

Safety
Ensuring that a client has a safe living environment is a top priority. They will conduct a safety assessment and then make any recommendations for the addition of adaptive equipment, home modifications, or a change in living situation. 

Crisis Intervention
Offer crisis intervention when needed, helping clients navigate through emergency departments and hospitalizations, rehabilitation stays, and ensuring that adequate care is available to the client. For families that live at a distance, this can be a much-needed 24/7 emergency contact.

Geriatric Care Manager Fees
The average rate for a Geriatric Care Manager ranges from $50 to $200 per hour. It is important to note that clients may also be charged for caregiving supplies, mileage, and other out-of-pocket expenses their consultant incurs while providing services. GCMs are paid for with private funds and can be worked into your financial plan by exploring long-term care insurance options available in the market and other funding strategies. If you or a loved one has long-term care insurance, make sure to ask if they allow for an independent professional of your choice to assist you in determining the care and treatment plan. Most families who have chosen to work with a Geriatric Care Manager maintain that, while their costs are high, their services are invaluable.

How do you know you need a Geriatric Care Manager?
Many begin caring for a loved-one while they are healthy; however, caring for someone at this level can contribute to a decline in their own health over time. More than one-third of caregivers continue to provide intense care to others while suffering from poor health themselves. Studies have shown that an influential factor in a caregiver’s decision to place an impaired relative in a long-term care facility is the family caregiver’s own physical health. Including a geriatric care manager as part of a comprehensive financial plan can reduce stress and improve overall well-being for both the one being cared for and the caregiver.

You may need a GCM if the person you are caring for:

  • has multiple medical or psychological issues
  • is unable to live safely in their current environment
  • is not pleased with current care providers and requires advocacy
  • is confused about their own financial and/or legal situation
  • has limited or no family support

The expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides answers during a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing stress and time off work for family caregivers. Asking for and accepting assistance does not make one less of a caregiver – it may help you be a better one.

Allison Payne, CLTC
Long Term Care Specialist, ACSIA Partners

We are hosting Allison at our office on May 22 -24th. If you would like to schedule a free consultation please contact Kailie Abascal, at 646-3522.

Aging Life Care Professionals throughout the country will celebrate National Aging Life Care Month by providing seminars, webinars, special events, open houses, and other educational activities for the public. For more information and to look up by zip code an Aging Life Care Professionals, visit ALCA’s website aginglifecare.org

 

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