Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How Not To Hire A Geriatric Care Manager (Part 3)

I knew I had made a serious mistake in hiring this particular Geriatric Care Manager. Suddenly, it seemed as though I was paying an hourly fee for the time she spent having lunches with Mom—plus she expected me to pay the cost of these lunches which were listed as “Related Expenses” on her bills.

She was also billing for chauffer services, and for waiting around in doctors’ offices (which could sometimes be several hours of waiting time times her hourly rate). I thought I had hired a GCM. Instead, I appeared to have “bought” a new best friend for my Mom (who had managed to alienate all of her “free” friends).

What was going on here, I wondered? I had hoped for an objective ally to help me plan for Mom’s needs but, suddenly, (according to the GCM) Mom had "hostile feelings that needed expressing." So I found myself dealing with two adversarial camps: Mom and the GCM versus me.

It was time to evaluate the situation. The GCM concept still made sense to me, but perhaps I had selected the wrong person. She was adding to my stress, rather than relieving it…not at all what I had in mind by hiring her. But was she helping Mom? So I asked Mom how she'd feel if I fired this GCM and, surprise…surprise, she was actually happy to see the lady go.

Shortly thereafter, I found a real geriatric professional, one of the social workers at a local family service, who made it a priority to evaluate Mom’s needs, who conducted herself professionally, and who reported regularly to me. I'll call her Gloria, although that was not her real name.

She was a breath of fresh air—everything I had hoped for in hiring her predecessor (that I didn’t get). She soon discovered that Mom had known all along that the other lady was charging us a fee. So she knew the lady was not a "real" friend, just a hired gun. Rather than confront me with this news, however, my mother deliberately ran up the clock as her way of killing the arrangement. At least, that’s what she told Gloria.

It didn’t take long for Gloria to figure out that Mom had some real emotional and cognitive problems, that she was probably at the beginning stage of some sort of dementia, and that the symptoms were certain to get worse.

She began to prepare me for a day, in the not too distant future, when my mother would need to move again, this time into a more sheltered environment.

But that’s a story for another time.

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