Caring For An Elder From Far Away: Geriatric Care Managers

by Terry Weaver, M.P.S., A.C.C.

As an adult, balancing work and elder care can be a challenge whether your parent lives next door or out of state. Add children to this, and the situation becomes compounded. Legal, financial and long-term planning for elder care is crucial, and long-distance caregivers need to prepare for travel and time off from work. Face the facts, most older adults want to stay right where they are. They do not want to relocate, even if it means being closer to family. If this is what the elder wishes, as the child, you must respect their wishes.

For people who work and care for an aged family member, (particularly when that family member lives far away), one solution is to hire a professional geriatric care manager. A geriatric care manager is a professional who specializes in assisting older people and their families with long-term care arrangements. Care managers have a minimum of a bachelor's degree or substantial equivalent training in gerontology, social work, nursing, counseling, psychology or a related field.

Prolonged illness, disability or simply the challenges of aging can significantly alter the lifestyle of older adults. Daily responsibilities can become difficult. Efficient coordination of medical, personal and social service resources can enhance the quality of life for older adults and their caregivers.
Geriatric care mangers assist older adults in maintaining their independence at home and can ease the transition to a new setting, if needed. Geriatric care managers also help:

  • Conduct care planning assessments to identify problems, eligibility for assistance, and need for services.
  • Review financial, legal, or medical issues and offer referrals to geriatric specialists to avoid future problems and conserve assets.
  • Act as a liaison to families at a distance, making sure things are going well and alerting families to problems.
  • Assist with moving an older person to or from a retirement complex, assisted living facility, or nursing home.
  • Offer counseling and support.
    How do you know when it is time to call a professional? Look for these signs.
  • Is your loved one losing weight for no known reason? Do they fall?
  • Is the home unkempt and becoming unsafe? How are meals made? Who pays the bills?
  • Are they able to (and do they) maintain a neat appearance? Has drinking become a problem?
  • Is it safe for your parents to drive? If not, who does the driving for them?
  • Has there been a sudden memory loss or increased confusion?

Of course in order to answer these questions, you’ll have to pay a visit to your long distance loved one, or rely on information from a relative or friend who is close to that loved one. There is no reason to feel guilty about being far away as long as you are doing everything that you can to help.

Copyright 2004 Today’s Caregiver magazine. Subscriptions are available by calling 800-829-2734 or online at .

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