When it comes to aging parents, making decisions about what to do, how and when, isn’t easy. We’re used to our parents making their own decisions. It’s hard to intervene when you aren’t sure whether it’s really necessary. Families often disagree about what should be done.

Consider these typical scenarios:

  • You visit your mother in the morning and she is standing at the stove cooking a steak, a stack of unpaid bills on the kitchen table and prescription bottles mixed together in a bag along with a few unlabeled bottles containing an assortment of different colored pills. She assures you that she knows exactly what and when to take, but it doesn’t seem likely.
  • After the last fall, your father spent three days in the hospital and you are informed that he wasn’t really admitted, that he was under observation and that if he goes to rehab he will have to pay out of pocket. Didn’t he go to rehab last time he fell?

Handling these issues is difficult and emotionally charged. A geriatric care manager is a certified professional, often social workers or nurses, who understands older adults, healthcare and the complex web of resources, public and private that support elders’ health and wellbeing. Care managers offer advice and support when it’s time to make important decisions about short- and long-term care, whether at home or in a facility.

What you need to know: 

  • A private care manager works for you. They work on a straight consulting agreement, typically by the hour.
  • They can anticipate problems and they know how to overcome them.
  • They are especially helpful when adult children lead busy lives, caring for their own children, work or live far away.
  • Investing a few dollars upfront can save families thousands of dollars of mistaken choices or lack of awareness of special programs that exist to support older adults aging in place in their own home.
  • They can match you with service providers that meet an older adult’s needs.

Still on the fence about hiring an elder care expert? Most families hire specialists to help with tax prep, college admissions and career moves. Hiring a professional to help with an aging parent is just worthwhile.

~This article was submitted my Malka Young, LICSW,CCM. She is the Director of Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions in Massachusetts.