What is a Geriatric Care Manager?

Geriatric care management, also now known as Aging Life Care™, is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults facing ongoing health challenges. Geriatric Care Managers work with families and/or fiduciaries such as POAs or court-appointed guardians to provide expert guidance and support.   We help the family or professional make informed decisions and take actions to ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they care for through:

  • Assessment and monitoring
  • Planning and problem-solving
  • Education and advocacy
  • Family caregiver coaching


Is Geriatric Care Management and Aging Life Care the same thing?

Yes. A few years ago the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers re-branded and re-named itself to the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA). The reason for this was that the term “Care Manager” was being used generically in the health care arena. We wanted to distinguish ourselves and our profession with a unique identity with specific requirements and standards.

 To be considered an Aging Life Care Professional one must be a member of the Aging Life Care Association™ (ALCA). ALCA members must meet stringent education, experience, and certification requirements of the organization, and all members are required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice

Aging Life Care Professionals are free to call themselves “Aging Life Care Managers™”, “Aging Life Care Specialists™”, “Geriatric care managers” or “GCMs”. However we are a distinct profession from Health Care or Patient Advocates, Senior Advisors, Senior Navigators, and Elder Advocates.


Are Geriatric Care Managers licensed?

There is no licensing for Geriatric Care Managers/Aging Life Care Professionals. However there is voluntary certification through the National Association of Care Manager Certification. The initials for this certification are CMC. This certification ensures consumers that the Care Manager meets a high level of education and experience and has passed a comprehensive examination.

The Aging Life Care Association also recognizes Certified Case Managers (CCMs) and Certified Social Work Case Managers (CASWCMs and C-SWCMs) as eligible for membership in ALCA. Certified Care Managers, like myself, and Certified Case Managers are eligible for the “Advanced Professional” level of membership in ALCA. Membership in ALCA ensures that the Care Manager meets professional requirements and is bound to specific standards of practice and a code of ethics.

Be aware that anyone can hang out a shingle and say they are a Geriatric Care Manager.  Just because they are a nurse or social worker and have some experience does not mean they meet industry standards or are bound to our code of ethics.

To find out if a Care Manager is a member of ALCA go to www.aginglifecare.org


What should I look for in Geriatric Care Manager?

When looking for a professional, be sure they are certified and members of the Aging Life Care Association. This way you will know they meet certain requirements and are bound to follow specific standards of practice and code of ethics. Find out her/his areas of expertise. You will want to hire someone who regularly handles clients with similar needs to yours.  Not all Care Managers have the same experience. Some have nursing backgrounds but others have diverse experience, education, and backgrounds. Some, like myself, specialize in certain areas such as dementia care.

Ask about length of time they have been practicing and ask for references of other clients and families they have worked with.
 

What knowledge areas does the Geriatric Care Manager possess?

The Aging Life Care Association identifies the following 8 knowledge areas:

  • Health and disability
  • Financial
  • Housing
  • Families
  • Local Resources
  • Advocacy
  • Legal
  • Crisis Intervention


What are some of the most common areas a Geriatric Care Manager can help me with?

  • Assessing, monitoring and updating families  
  • Providing Alzheimer’s and dementia consultation and services
  • Managing crises, safety concerns or conflicts in the client’s life
  • Advocating and coordinating for the client’s medical concerns
  • Providing support and services that preserve the client’s independence
  • Offering activities that enhance the client’s social support and quality of life


How much does Care Management cost?

Private Geriatric Care Management is a fee for service enterprise. You should expect a written agreement specifying fees and terms before the commencement of services. Your Care Manager should provide transparency and work within your budget, keeping you abreast of where things stand upon request.

Many Care Managers, like myself, bill for their time in small increments, sending invoices once a month. Visits are a minimum of one hour, otherwise there is no minimum and no long-term commitment. You can discontinue services at any time. Sometimes the Care Manager may request a retainer in advance.  

Not all seniors have the resources to pay for Private Care Management but families of elders with limited resources often find that a consultation with a Care Manager can result in knowledge of entitlements and resources that can save them money.


Doesn’t Medicare or other health insurance cover Care Management?

Geriatric Care Management is not covered by Medicare or other health insurance at this time. However, one advantage is that there is no 3rd party payor limiting what we can do for you and how much time we can spend. We are free to provide personalized long or short-term services — focusing on the individual and their family’s wants and needs.


Aren’t Care Management services provided for free through insurance, hospitals or government programs?  

Yes, there is a program providing case management for low-income seniors through the county. It is called the Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP). There are some programs and services provided for free but they are usually quite limited in scope or have income and/or asset limits. Health Insurance sometimes provides case management for at risk patients or over the phone. Hospitals and rehab facilities provide Case Managers only while you’re in the facility. However, none of these services can provide the scope and breadth that private Care Management can.


Where does the Care Manager work with the client?

The Care Manager goes to where the client is whether at home or in a care setting. Not all Care Management is done in the clients home. Families and professionals find they need Care Management as much or more after transitioning to a care setting such as Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing.


Do Care Managers provide caregivers?

Some Care Managers employ and provide their own caregivers. Others, like myself, work with local caregiving agencies to help families find good caregivers. Each model has its advantages. Some people feel that having separate Care Management and Caregiving agencies reduces conflict of interest.


Do you provide coverage for emergencies and vacations?

Most Care Managers, like myself, provide accessibility and back-up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are available to respond quickly in the case of an emergency. We are available to go to the ER or Hospital when a client is admitted to provide advocacy and support. We provide coverage for long-distance family caregivers and for vacations, illness or other periods when you are not available.


Where can I get more information about Aging Life Care and Geriatric Care Management?

Go to www.aginglifecare.org


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I am not sure I could have made it through these years without Laurel’s superb help. Laurel was fantastic at helping my Mom and me understand the situation better, organize the appropriate care, and understand the industry and how it interacts… Laurel is a superstar and few in the industry can compare.
— K.W. Kendall, PhD, retired Professor