Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How Not To Hire A Geriatric Care Manager (Part 1)

So I was stuck in Michigan while my mother continued her cognitive slide in Florida. What to do?

I had a plan to help me stay better informed about her daily needs, but it would require her willing cooperation. A new profession had recently emerged to help relatives of elderly family members supervise and coordinate care and services for their loved ones. Its practitioners were known as Geriatric Care Managers (GCM) and I wanted to hire one for Mom. But how to find a good one?

A national association of these GCM’s had formed for the purpose of promoting professionalism among its membership. It provided contact information for those of their members that practiced in South Florida. With the membership list in hand I phone interviewed several GCM’s living and practicing near Mom, and selected one. But would my mother buy into this idea? I had my doubts.

There were all sorts of services that these professionals said they could provide, depending upon their individual backgrounds and training. These included, among other things, clinical services, transportation, shopping assistance, emotional support, financial management, liaison with social services, or just plain old companionship.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of this service was the potential of having an objective, third party, on the scene, able to monitor the situation and to report regularly to me about Minnie’s needs.

It was like buying a surrogate caregiving relative, I thought...someone to be there for Mom when I could not. Without question, there would be some tough choices to be made down the road, some of which might be heart wrenching and guilt producing—like the possibility of having to arrange for the dreaded nursing home, for example.

I didn’t want to face such decisions alone, always to wonder whether I had done the right thing. Here was a way, I thought, to have a partner to assist me to evaluate each situation, and to advise me on the best professional options for my mother. It was the perfect setting, I thought, for a Geriatric Care Manager. So I hired one.

Soon I was paying big bucks for this GCM to have lunch several times a week with Mom…and not much else! More next time.

Bob Tell
Author, "Dementia-Diary, A Caregiver's Journal"