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Aging Wisely with Care Management

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Aging Wisely and EasyLiving Director

Message from Alex Chamberlain

Geriatric care management plays an important role in our ever evolving healthcare system. Aging Wisely is proud to be at the forefront of addressing these challenges and to have protected the interests of over 700 clients over the past 18 years. When my family founded Aging Wisely, we honored the memory of my great-grandmother and our family’s struggle to care for her with limited options. Over time, we have seen the array of options evolve, but it is no less of a struggle for caregiving families today. Here are some of my thoughts about the valuable role care management can play for elders and families today and into the future.

Every year the government changes the qualifications, rules, and funding for federal and state programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and other government funded programs. Large companies that sell fundamental programs such as insurance and other benefits are trying to reduce costs and adhere to new regulations. At the center of all these changes are seniors, the fastest growing population in the United States. As our population ages, the number of older citizens needing health care support will reach astronomical levels. Aging Wisely stays ahead of all these changes to ensure that clients have sound information for decision-making.

In the past, family members have picked up the burden of helping their aging loved ones navigate the healthcare puzzle. However, the amount of knowledge required to make informed decisions in this complex environment can make this an impossible job for a non-professional. Additionally, family dynamics have shifted and economic pressures mean that adult children may not have the time to invest in learning and navigating these systems. As more families struggle to understand the changing healthcare system, they can make a smart choice in reaching out to Aging Wisely to speak to someone who can provide a complete assessment of their needs and offer expert solutions.

The challenge we find ourselves facing is that many families wait until a crisis before exploring their long term care options. By then, the client and family are physically and emotionally overwhelmed and confused by being bounced around the healthcare system. Waiting until the crisis can really limit your options, leaving you in a less than ideal situation for your remaining years. Engaging Aging Wisely’s services creates options and can help you avoid these pitfalls. Rather than being caught up in the crisis, our professionals can build creative solutions around the client’s wishes, financial situation and a professional assessment. In this way, you and your family gain control and can steer clearly through any crisis that arises.

Aging in Place Minus the Hassle: A Professional Partner Makes All the Difference in Managing In-Home Caregivers

As our population continues to age, many will develop health and logistical issues that make it difficult to live on their own. Most of the clients we meet with prefer to age in place. We always recommend using a state licensed home health agency such as EasyLiving. Despite this, we know that many clients have decided to higher caregivers privately. However, once a client decides to employee privately, the family or other responsible party now becomes responsible for the employment of that individual and all the related supervision and administrative tasks.

Managing an employee can be a daunting and frustrating task for anyone, let alone the elder and family dealing with this for the first time. It also becomes awkward for the client and family to deal with employment problems as they become close and somewhat dependent upon the individual caregiver. Hiring Aging Wisely can be tremendously valuable as Care Managers have a level of expertise that can help families anticipate needs they have not encountered before. A Care Manager can coordinate background screenings, reference checks, drug testing, care plan development, training, and proper documentation. Not only are these issues stressful for elders and their families to deal with, you can easily miss important elements and required duties of privately hiring in home care.

When professionals such as attorneys or financial professionals get involved in helping, they are also taking on the responsibility and associated risks. Having a professional partner to navigate these waters and document key information can greatly mitigate the risks and protect you and your client.

Want to talk about how you and your family can make the choice to age wisely? Or are you a professional who’d like to partner with us to help your clients in a holistic way? Contact me today online or at 727-447-5845 and let’s chat!

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The Call for Help: When is it time to get assistance for your elderly parents?

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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.

 

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National Geriatric Care Managers Month

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May is National Geriatric Care Managers Month, celebrating the work that care managers do to help elders and families throughout the country and aiming to raise awareness so families can access help when they need it.

Care management is still a relatively new profession and often an untapped resource for families struggling with elder or disability care issues. Please pass along our resources and articles if you know someone who could benefit!

A good place to start is by reading our Signs You Might Need a Care Manager. Though a bit tongue-in-cheek, many families and caregivers can relate to these challenges, but don’t know there is a place to turn to make things easier. We also outlined some of the situations that indicate a geriatric care management assessment might be needed in this article. Most importantly, we encourage families to seek advice and understand options, whether or not they decide to hire a professional care manager (our Senior Care Consultant does complimentary phone or in-home consultations–email or call 727-447-5845 to inquire). Caregiving is such a personal, family matter but getting outside help and advice can truly help you do the best job for your loved one.

As the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers shares, “Professional geriatric care management is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges.  Working with families, geriatric care manager expertise provides the answers at 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 worry, stress and time off of work for family caregivers.”

A geriatric care manager is a health and human services professional, acting as a guide and advocate to help the elder achieve maximum potential and support the family system. Services are completely tailored to the individual client’s needs, making this a unique option for problem solving in a holistic way. A care manager can work with you in any setting, from setting up in-home care and resources for aging in place to advocating for you at the hospital or monitoring nursing home care. Some of the roles a geriatric care manager takes on include:

  • Assessor
  • Planner
  • Advocate
  • Mediator
  • Counselor
  • Liaison/coordinator
  • Educator
  • Coach

You can review some of our care management client testimonials and case studies to get a better idea of how care managers help with specific issues. We look forward to sharing more stories and information with you as we celebrate National Geriatric Care Managers Month!

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Hospital Discharge: Checklist for Families

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Our previous blog posts have covered the Challenges of Hospital Discharge for Elders and Ways You Can Help an Aging Loved One Have a Safe Hospital Discharge. Now we will share some important questions you should ask (a checklist of sorts) in the hospital discharge process.

Did I get written discharge instructions explained to me with time to ask questions and clarify any concerns? Items that should be included:

o Reason for admission, procedures done, outcome
o Do we know who to contact if we have a problem after discharge?
o What symptoms should we be watching for and what do we do if we have a concern?
o Medication list (and how will I make sure all my doctors & providers are updated with the new list)
o Follow up appointments

Get information about follow up treatment and therapy that might be essential to recuperation. Find out:

o Will I be receiving therapy services at home, inpatient or outpatient? You will need to select a provider and the hospital will generally provide a list of options if you ask, but you should do your research so that you can make an educated choice. There is information online about provider outcomes and you may wish to check with your loved one’s doctor or geriatric care manager for recommendations.
o Does insurance cover these services (your insurance may impact the choice of provider)?
o How long can they be expected to last? What outcome is expected? (Share your goals and concerns as well.)

Find out about the patient’s home care needs and what assistance may be needed in the weeks following the hospitalization. Issues to consider:

o Patient’s functional status: strength, ability to transfer safely, bathing, dressing, weakness, physical limitations.
o Household needs: can the patient take care of the household? Do laundry, clean? Help preparing meals (in compliance with nutritional needs/medical orders)?
o Transportation: will the patient need rides to appointments or help with errands?
o Medication management: consider how the patient will get new medications and discard old ones properly, manage following a new medication routine, communicate changes to all doctors/providers?

*Most times, if a patient is returning home after a hospital stay, they will receive some Skilled Home Care services, covered under Medicare or insurance. These services often do not begin on the day of discharge and are not intended to cover custodial needs such as most of those listed above. Medicare may cover support from a home health aide, but only as long as the patient requires skilled services such as physical therapy or a R.N. (for example for dressing changes/wound care). If you have concerns about any of the areas above, you should talk to a licensed, private duty home care provider, such as our sister company EasyLiving, about affordable home care and transitional packages to fill any gaps.

Ensure the home environment will accommodate post-hospital needs:

o Is any special medical equipment needed? Have arrangements been made? Will equipment be delivered and when? Do I need to pick up equipment and where can I do so? Cost/insurance coverage?
o How safe is the home environment? Have we completed a home safety, falls prevention assessment?
o Does the patient have a Personal Emergency Response System in case he/she falls or needs to call for help?

If you would like professional advice on how to prepare for a hospital discharge, what resources are available and how to get the best after-care, Aging Wisely’s geriatric care managers provide caregiver consultations, in-hospital and home safety assessments and patient advocacy.

Our professional patient advocates are here to help-contact us today!

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Payment Concerns
Not sure how you are going to pay for elder care?


Is the Time Right?
Find out if its time to seek help for your loved one.


Aging in Place
How to keep a loved one safe at home, and when it may be time to consider assisted living.




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Mission Statement

Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.