When it comes to eldercare, the phone becomes your constant companion…from the anxious call you make every week (or day) to your elderly parent to check on how things are going to the panicked calls you receive from Mom or Dad (or from the emergency room). Or, what about the calls from family members to check in on things (or criticize your efforts)? Then, there are all the calls you might make on your loved one’s behalf…calls to agencies to try to get information, calls to doctors offices to try to obtain information, calls to family members to provide information. As a caregiver, you definitely need to have a mobile plan with a lot of minutes!
But, perhaps the most important call is the call for help (this is often many calls…but hint, hint, we’re going to let you in on the secret to cutting down the work). Because caring for your elderly loved ones is such a deeply personal thing, we find many families struggle through all kinds of challenges without reaching out for help. You may not be sure where to turn, may feel it is up to you to handle everything (or have been told by your parents they don’t need help even though you find yourself doing more and more)…or you might just feel too busy to add making a phone call to your to-do list. We’re here to give you some tips on where to go for help and why it’s worth your time (and should be a time-saver).
So, when should you make “the call”? It is preferable to do it before a crisis, when you start to notice changes and concerns in your elder parent (i.e. those phone calls become more frequent) or when issues arise that you are having trouble navigating (e.g. insurance denials, trying to understand eligibility for a program, getting poor information from doctors/providers). Basically, if you are worried or spending a lot of time dealing with caregiving issues, it is worth taking some time to make the call. You can check out our “Warning Signs” handout for some key indicators. If you find yourself already in a crisis, it’s not too late if you know who to call.
Who should you call? Well, obviously we’re biased, but we have good reason to say you should call a geriatric care manager. The reason geriatric care management came in to being was the need for professionals who could serve the comprehensive needs of elder and families…someone who could “bridge the gaps” and help in any setting or aspect of eldercare. There are great resources out there for specific needs: the medical specialist who can help with treatment, the home care provider who can bring in home health aides, the assisted living where Dad could move for care, the disease-specific organization that can provide information on the condition, etc. What a geriatric care manager does for you is bring all of that together so you don’t have to make a million calls (often leading to dead ends).
The care manager offers you expertise in various facets of eldercare and puts that together with your personal situation. This saves you a lot of wasted time and effort going down the wrong paths. The pioneers in care management were social workers and nurses who saw this need time and time again when they worked with families in various settings and knew there had to be a better solution.
What will this call cost me? Generally, you can talk to someone at the company about your needs and concerns as part of the complimentary inquiry process and then you will find out the procedure and costs for proceeding with services. At Aging Wisely, our Senior Care Consultant will provide a complimentary phone or in-home consultation to determine your needs and outline your options.
May is National Geriatric Care Managers Month. Join us in spreading the word about this great resource for family caregivers, so that every family knows the options and where to turn when help is needed.
If you or someone you know needs help, take a few minutes to call us at 727-447-5845.