Questions to Ask About Senior Care Management
Even if you live near your aging relative, do you always know what’s going on with them? Do they let you know when they need help, or do they try to go it alone, doing the best they can? Making sure your older loved ones are getting the proper support is a top priority, but it can be hard to accomplish. Hiring senior care management services can make that goal more attainable. Before you jump into that, though, you need to get some questions answered.
These questions can be divided into two groups. First, there are some that you need to ask yourself and your family to determine whether senior care management services will meet your needs. Second, there are others that you need to ask the senior care management provider you’re interested in. Whether that’s an individual or a company that coordinates them, there are plenty of things you need to be sure about before deciding which care provider is right for you.
Before we get into all that, though, let’s address the elephant in the room...
What is senior care management?
The most important question. Basically, senior care management is a service that helps coordinate care for seniors. The people who provide it are typically called geriatric care managers. They’re usually a licensed nurse or social worker with a focus on geriatrics.
Geriatric care managers will connect you with important resources, facilitate communication, and just generally help find the right services to fill in any gaps in your elderly loved one’s care.
Conversations around how to care for an aging loved one are often emotionally charged, and if your family isn’t all on the same page, tensions can rise. Fortunately, this is another area in which senior care management can help. The geriatric care manager can facilitate these conversations as a neutral party, which can help them be more productive.
They can also help you find and coordinate elder home care services for your loved one. This option is appealing to many families because elder home care services allow seniors to age in place. Not having to move to a residential facility is a main goal for a lot of older adults, and since elder home care services make that possible, they’re highly interested in them. Senior care managers can walk you through finding the right elder home care services for your loved one, whether that’s one visit a week or 24/7 monitoring.
There are plenty of questions that you and your family need to answer before employing any senior care management services. Here are the ones we think are the most important.
Do you know what you’re doing? Are you in over your head?
This is probably the biggest (and broadest) one. Caring for a loved one can be an incredibly difficult task, especially if you’re trying to do it on your own. You should be honest with yourself about how you’re doing. If you need help sorting through your different options for elder home care services, senior care management can help. They’re experts in the field. They’ll know better what’s out there and what kinds of care your loved one would benefit from.
Not everyone who would benefit from senior care management services is going it alone, though. They can help even if you already employ elder home care services. Especially if you live far away from your loved one, you might not know what’s going on with their care day-to-day. A geriatric care manager can be a good resource in those situations.
Another way many people benefit from senior care management is from their services as advocates for your loved one. If you’re having difficulties with the senior living community they call home, for example, sometimes it can be useful to bring in a care manager. They have a better understanding of how these places work and can therefore be better negotiators. It’s always good to have an expert in your corner, especially when you feel like you’re floundering.
Is your loved one being honest with you about their health?
While this question might be a little uncomfortable to deal with, it’s important. Some people don’t disclose everything they’re going through because they’re afraid to burden their families. Plus, if they receive some elder home care services, they might not be completely forthright about how that’s going.
If you suspect that’s the case and that your loved one might be more willing to open up to someone a little farther from the situation, it might be a good idea to bring in a care manager.
Can you afford senior care management?
Senior care management might not come cheap. It’s not covered by most insurance plans, so you will probably be paying out of pocket. That might be a deal breaker for some families, so you need to realistically consider the cost well before getting that first bill.
Geriatric care managers usually charge anywhere between $75 and $200 per hour. That’s pretty steep, but know that the amount of time a care manager spends on your case can vary widely. Some families only bring in a senior care manager for one consultation. Others will want to have them involved on an ongoing basis.
You’ll need to consider all of the care your loved one needs when deciding how much you can afford. For example, elder home care services on their own can be pretty expensive for some people. Can you afford to add senior care management on top of that?
The plus side is that care managers often know of other ways to fund care. They have expert knowledge of all the different resources and services that might be available to you. Still, you don’t want to over extend. Not everyone is comfortable talking about finances, but you as a family should be totally honest about how much you can realistically pay for senior care. Ask yourself how much you can really afford for senior care management and go from there.
Does your loved one need more help than they’re currently getting?
This one goes along with our previous point about being honest about what help your loved one needs. You need to take a good look at what services they’re currently receiving. Are you trying to do it all yourself? Or do you employ elder home care services? If so, what kind? Are they comprehensive?
On the other hand, if your loved one lives at an assisted living facility, are they getting the right kind of services? Or would it be helpful to have an extra advocate to get them more accommodations? All of these things can be addressed by senior care management.
Ask the potential senior care management provider…
Once you’ve answered all of those questions for yourself and determined that you do want to proceed with finding senior care management services, then you need to contact some providers. It’s their turn to answer some questions. Here are the ones we’ve identified as most important.
How qualified are your staff members? What credentials do they have?
Of course you’ll want to know that you’re working with qualified professionals. That’s a given. To make sure of that, you’ll need to inquire about it if they don’t make it abundantly clear. As we said before, most geriatric care managers have experience as nurses or social workers. That should be the kind of credentials you’re looking for, as well as specialization in geriatrics.
Part of this is knowing whether the care manager has experience in your loved one’s specific needs. Ideally, you’re looking for someone who specializes in the conditions and challenges your loved one faces. You don’t want a dementia care expert trying to figure out the best ways to care for someone who’s main struggles are mobility issues, for example. Just like you’d want someone providing elder home care services to specialize in caring for your loved one’s specific needs, you want your care manager to have the same expertise.
What initial and ongoing fees will you charge?
As we mentioned previously, geriatric care managers typically charge hourly, and those charges can add up. You’ll want to walk into it with your eyes open. The charges for the initial assessment might differ from their ongoing hourly rate.
Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but it’s important so that you can realistically assess your finances. Going broke for senior care management is not an outcome anybody wants. Plus, it can open the door to talking about different programs the care manager might be aware of to help you pay for senior services, including elder home care services.
Can I contact any references?
Having past or current clients willing to vouch for their services will speak volumes. Some care managers will provide you with a list of past clients who can speak to their experience. That can help ease your mind and convince you that you’re working with a true professional. A care manager can essentially become a member of the family, guiding you through some of your toughest decisions. You wouldn’t want someone coming into your house to provide elder home care services without knowing if you can trust them, and you should hold a geriatric care manager to the same standards. You’ll want to be sure you’ll feel comfortable letting them into sensitive discussions.
How flexible will you be in the case of an emergency?
In the event of a health crisis, you’ll want to know who you have in your corner. Those types of high-stress scenarios can be incredibly overwhelming, and having a senior care manager to help out can take a lot of weight off your shoulders. If, for example, something happens and you need to find elder home care services ASAP, you’ll want to know that your geriatric care manager will be ready to help. So, with all that in mind, you’ll want to know if they’ll be available for emergency situations.
How long have you been providing senior care management services?
This one is sort of a supplementary question to the one about contacting references. You’ll want to be sure that you’re getting a qualified expert in the field, and that kind of expertise really only comes with experience. Of course, that’s not to say that all experienced care managers are the best ones, or that people new to the profession are inherently bad at their jobs. You just want another data point to compare different providers.
Get your questions answered.
Now that you know everything you need to ask, it’s time to start thinking about hiring a geriatric care manager. Check in with yourself and your family to start asking these important questions. You’ll need to dive into your finances and decide how much you can set aside for senior care — don’t forget to figure in all the different types your loved one needs, like elder home care services or living in a residential facility. Be realistic about how much help you can provide on your own and about how much knowledge you bring to the table.
Once you’ve got your own house in order and you’re clear about what you need, start reaching out to senior care management providers. Make sure you know how much they’re going to charge for their services, even if you think you’ll only need a simple consultation. If they don’t make it clear up front what kind of credentials their staff has, inquire about them. Also ask for any references they feel comfortable giving you. This is all to make sure you can trust them with the important task of coordinating care for an elderly loved one.
Then, after getting satisfactory answers to all of these questions, you can get started with your senior care manager. Whether you need them to help coordinate communication about your elder home care services or you need someone to walk you through problems at an assisted living facility, a geriatric care manager can be a helping hand through the process of caring for many older adults. If that sounds like something you’d benefit from, you’d better start asking some questions.
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