What is a Geriatric Care Manager?
A Geriatric Care Manager is a health and human services professional with a specialized body of knowledge and experience related to aging and elder care issues.
A Professional Geriatric Care Manager (PGCM) is a member of the National GCM Association and has committed to adhering to the GCM Pledge of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The PGCM assists older adults in attaining their maximum functional potential and quality of life. The PGCM strives to respect the autonomy of the individual and delivers care coordination and support services with sensitivity to preserve the dignity and respect of each individual. In addition, the PGCM is an experienced guide and resource for families of older adults.
What does a Geriatric Care Manager do?
A professional Geriatric Care Manager can guide families through professional consultation/counseling, prioritizing needs, developing customized care plans, setting up services developing a plan of care and making sure the plan is instituted and followed so as to have positive outcomes. These activities not only help the older person, but also provide much-needed solutions for the adult child or family who find themselves in a crisis on how to help their parents.
How does it work?
I always start with a courtesy phone consultation to explore how I can best help in your situation. The next step is either a consultation or a visit to meet and evaluate the client. Many families start with a one-hour consultation which can save you hours of research and answer questions specific to your situation such as:
- My parent refuses care – what can I do?
- I think my parent may have Alzheimer’s – how do I get them evaluated?
- I have power of attorney – if my parent is no longer competent how can I get it activated?
- My siblings and I don’t agree on what to do – help!
- Mom is running out of money and can’t afford to stay where she is
- What kind of help can we get in paying for care?
- What entitlements and benefits does my parent qualify for?
- How can we get help in accessing and applying for benefits?
Dementia Care Services
Cognitive evaluation and recommendations
The “Informal assessment”
Written evaluations and care plans
Housing evaluations and referrals
Medical care referrals and/or advocacy
Behavioral Medication evaluation and adjustment in conjunction with medical specialists
Non-medical approaches to behavioral care
Transition plans for moving from home to a care setting
Behavioral evaluation and interventions
How to pay for care, who pays for what, how to apply for your entitlements
Finding the best caregivers or care setting
Ongoing care management with regular monitoring
Regular reports to long-distance family caregivers
I always start with a complimentary phone conversation so we can explore how I can be helpful in your situation. My first question is “Tell me what’s going on”. From there I can explain how I might get involved. It could be as simple as a one-hour consultation in my office to point you in the right direction. More often folks request an “informal assessment” where I come and meet the client in their home or care setting as a non-threatening “friend”. I can tell a lot about the individual just by interacting with them and asking a few non-threatening questions. Then I can make initial recommendations based on your needs or develop a Plan of Care to address your concerns. The Plan of Care is a collaborative effort, involving you in the decision-making seat. We can discuss time, fees, and goals with you deciding what you may want me to to based on your budget and situation.
Living with dementia can be painful and stressful both for the individual and their families. But that is not the whole picture. Within each individual lives a unique person who is able to interact, love, feel, and participate in the present moment. Even with advanced dementia one can experience an intact sense of humor, a strong range of emotions, and a satisfying sense of pleasure in the sensory cues around them. I never use the term “dementia sufferer” because suffering does not have to be the experience of either the person with the diagnosis or their loved ones. Certainly there is loss and change but as with any health issue it is possible to focus on the present and live with a full range of emotion, meaning, and activity.
I approach each client as a unique individual who is more than just a diagnosis, a set of symptoms and problems. I look for the person within and focus on their strengths – a sense of humor, warmth, a love of life and the things that are still important to them.
My best work is done directly with the client and family to help effect change. An important component of my approach is to develop a trusting relationship with the client so that I can help develop a plan to effect change without trauma or fear. From there I collaborate with the family and/or providers to implement the plan.
I work intuitively, keeping an open mind and creative heart taking my cues from for each individual keeping in mind what I already know about their and their family’s wishes, values, and preferences.
Experience and background
I have had the unique priviledge and background of working hands-on in settings with people with dementia. This unique background has given me a bird’s eye perspective of the hundreds of ways people with dementia can behave and what responses and interventions work best. I have gotten to know people over the course of time in order to develop rapport, trust, and approaches that really work. I have worked with numerous doctors and specialists and have become knowledgeable about medications, behavioral interventions, and creative problem-solving.
Most notably I was the leader of a team of professionals at the Institute on Aging in San Francisco responsible for the care of over 100 older adults with dementia living in the community. The team, which including doctors and residents from UCSF, met every morning to plan approaches and interventions for the participants in the On Lok by IOA/UCSF program. It was my job to ensure the implementation of these plans. I had the unique experience of learning first-hand the interdisciplinary approach of doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers, and more. I bring all of this knowledge and experience with me when working with clients and their families.
I offer a range of services to the families and/or professional support systems of older adults with cognitive impairment.