Considering a Care Manager? What You Need to Know
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the difficult challenges associated with aging? Is your responsibility to care for a loved one becoming unmanageable? You are not alone, as it is normal to encounter medical, legal, financial, and psychological complications related to aging that eventually points you in the direction of a care manager.
A care manager is a social worker, nurse, gerontologist, or mental health professional who acts as a guide for families with specialized care needs. Care managers provide expertise in the assessment, plan development, coordination, and monitoring of elder care services to ensure the highest quality of care.
Countless families hire a care manager to alleviate their stress, worry, and fear that can accompany aging—and most importantly—give them a greater sense of stability, clarity, and peace of mind. According to research conducted by the Florida Chapter of the Aging Life Care Association, ninety-nine percent of families said a care manager had a positive effect on their own lives.
Background and Training
A professional care manager has an advanced degree in gerontology, nursing, social work, psychology, or another related field. He or she is trained to understand the needs, wants, and risks of an aging adult, quickly pulling together all needed resources, services, and technology.
The cost of hiring a care manager can vary greatly. Hourly rates and fees range from $100 to $250, and an initial assessment can run from $150 to $750 depending on the scope of work. Some practitioners may charge a flat monthly fee for agreed upon services to make the planning of expenses and allocated time more manageable.
Knowledge of a Care Manager
A professional care manager has extensive training and expertise across eight distinct bodies of knowledge. They can lay out the best options, balancing the needs and wants of your elderly loved one with the requirements of your whole family.
Health and Disability
Care managers understand aging and the associated conditions and diseases. As a result, they can help seniors and their families make informed decisions relating to physical health and disability. When you need services, products, or education about a specific condition or diagnosis, you can count on a care manager to help guide you to the right information and services which can serve you best. They can help you formulate the questions you need to ask to be the best-informed consumer.
Care managers can help ease your financial worries about the aging process. They know how to create viable and sustainable care management plans based on affordability and value. They understand the criteria for public benefits, so you can receive all you’re entitled to, and they will appropriately refer you to financial professionals as needed to assist with financial planning.
A care manager knows what housing options are available in your local community and the associated costs and benefits. Also, if your loved one prefers staying in the comfort of their own home, a care manager will work with you and your family to develop a care plan that identifies which services and home adaptations are required to ensure safety.
Sometimes, “unfinished business” gets in the way of addressing a senior’s needs. A care manager can help families work through their unresolved family issues, or at least help them to work as civilly as possible with one another throughout the care management process.
Care managers have experience working in their local communities. They know the ins and outs of local resources, including prices, fees, and level of services. Most importantly they understand the subtle nuances of a program which allows the care manager to make “just right” recommendations.
Care managers are qualified to advocate for seniors. Due to their expertise and experience, care managers work effectively with hospitals, assisted living and nursing facilities, and local, state, and federal agencies to make sure that the senior receives all the help and support to which they are entitled. Advocacy like this is especially critical for seniors who can’t speak up for themselves (due to illness or cognitive conditions), as well as for those who are at risk of financial misconduct, neglect, undue influence, and other forms of elder abuse.
Professional care managers know what documents should be in place to ensure the proper protection. These may include advanced directives, wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. During the initial assessment, the care manager will help make sure you have all the necessary legal tools in place. If something is missing, they can offer referrals and other resources to get you what you need.
Aging is complicated, and at times it can even be traumatic. When a crisis arises, it can be tremendously beneficial to lean on the training and expertise of a professional care manager. Care managers can help you during a crisis and intervene when necessary, such as when confronted with a new diagnosis, loss of a family member, or a behavioral change.