As older adults navigate the aging process, the responsibility of looking after their health and well-being often falls to their family members—and in many cases, just one family member handles the majority of the caregiving duties. While taking care of an aging loved one can create a cherished bonding experience and a beautiful act of service, it may also become stressful, time-consuming, and overwhelming, particularly if the family caregiver lacks professional guidance or assistance from other relatives. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute, 40 percent of unpaid family caregivers reported feeling emotionally stressed, and 20 percent said they felt physically strained. Fortunately, invoking the assistance of a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) can ease the burden on caregivers and help them restore balance to their relationships with their loved ones.
What does a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) do?
Certified Geriatric Care Managers have received specialized education and training and have been credentialed by the International Commission on Health Care Certification™ (ICHCC) to provide case/care management services to elderly individuals with health and/or disability issues. For elderly clients, GCMs may offer a range of services as needed, including: creating a personalized Plan of Care; assisting with medication management; supervising ongoing care; providing patient education; and advocating for all of the client’s needs and requests.
For family caregivers, a GCM’s services can be invaluable, as they alleviate the caregiver’s workload and offer experienced, professional insight into what may be best for the elderly family member. Specifically, GCMs may support caregivers in the following ways:
- By creating and overseeing the implementation of a proposed Plan of Care based on the elderly client’s unique needs and circumstances, GCMs can help ease the decision-making burden that usually falls on caregivers and other family members.
- GCMs can offer referrals to outside resources (including healthcare professionals, attorneys, and financial advisors) that are best suited to fulfill the client’s specific needs.
- GCMs advocate for not only the patient, but their family as well.
- GCMs can help supervise the patient’s medical care, including accompanying the individual to doctor’s appointments, coordinating care among different providers, managing insurance coverage, ensuring that the Plan of Care is followed (or adjusting as needed), and more.
- Family conflict is common when it comes to caring for an aging loved one. GCMs can function as a neutral party, addressing different concerns and helping to mediate conflicts.
- GCMs can help with applications for state or federal benefits for which the elderly patient may qualify, thereby easing the financial burden on caregivers.
- By making informed recommendations for which types of care would most benefit the patient, GCMs can help families avoid unnecessary expenses.
While these are a few examples of the services that a GCM can provide for caregivers, the benefits in terms of improved quality of life for all involved are more difficult to quantify. When taking charge of a loved one’s day-to-day needs, many caregivers begin to neglect their own needs and sometimes those of their spouse and/or children. This can lead to a great deal of stress, anxiety, depression, feelings of guilt and isolation, resentment, and even financial problems or declining physical health. By bringing a GCM into the picture, caregivers can avoid these harmful side effects, reducing stress levels and freeing up time to truly enjoy their elderly loved one’s company during this special phase of life.
With the right support, serving as a caregiver for an aging loved one can be a memorable opportunity and a unique bonding experience. At Senior Support Solutions, our experienced GCMs are committed to supporting both our elderly clients and their family caregivers. Whether you’re seeking assistance with a particular aspect of your loved one’s care or you’re simply feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn, we can help assess your family’s needs and come up with a customized plan that will enhance quality of life for your elderly relative and all involved in his or her care. Call us today at 623-249-3927 to schedule a free consultation!