It takes a village to raise a child – so says a famous proverb. Anyone who has helped raise a child knows that saying to be true. Caring for the needs of a person who can’t take care of him or herself is exhausting, stressful and overwhelming. So why do so many adult children find themselves caring for their aging parents alone?
Too often, adult children feel that caring for their parents is their duty and one that they have to handle alone. But your parents probably accepted help from their family, friends and neighbors when you were growing up, and there’s no shame in asking for help now that you’re the caretaker.
And yet… everyone’s busy. Your friends and neighbors may have their own aging parents and young children to care for. You might need help that your loved ones can’t provide, like figuring out Medicare and hiring home health aides.
That’s why people turn to geriatric care managers, or GCMs. Hiring one of these professionals adds another person to your support circle, one who is uniquely skilled in navigating the challenges of elder care.
Geriatric care managers are people who are specifically trained to support elderly people and help their families arrange their care. Some GCMs start their careers as social workers or nurses. They’re knowledgeable about a lot of the issues and programs relevant to aging people, which the average adult child might not know about – things like Medicare/Medicaid, the early signs of dementia, local nursing home options and medication management.
Essentially, a good GCM will walk with you through the process of making decisions about your aging parent’s care. Say, for example, that both your parents are struggling to move around and have medical issues that aren’t under control. You aren’t sure if they’re still able to take care of themselves at home, so you call in a GCM.
The relationship should start with an initial consultation so the GCM can learn about your parents and their needs. She should ask lots of questions and visit with your parents in their home so she can assess the current situation. She might want to observe your parents as they drive, use the stairs and prepare meals.
Next, the GCM will probably put together a care plan that summarizes her observations and outlines her recommendations. If she thinks your parents can remain at home for now, she can help you get and install safety-proofing supplies. She might suggest bringing in caregivers to help with certain tasks, and can help you make those connections. If the GCM thinks your parents need to move into a facility, she can help you navigate the challenges of that transition (including helping you find the right facility). She can help you and your other relatives find support as you deal with the stress and emotions of caring for aging parents, or simply provide a sympathetic ear when you need to vent. A GCM may even accompany your parents to doctor’s appointments, acting as an intermediary between you and the doctors and help you find specialists if necessary.
Those are just some of the ways in which a skilled GCM can help. These professionals typically charge by the hour, which you can expect to pay out of pocket. Shelling out $50 or $100 per hour can be a financial burden, but using this service can actually save you money in the long-term because a GCM can help you avoid costly mistakes and plan for your parents’ financial future.
If you’re concerned about your aging parent’s welfare, if you’re already struggling to make the right decisions for your aging parent or if you live far away from your aging parent, now’s the right time to start looking for a geriatric care manager. Your local Office for the Aging or your parent’s primary care doctor can help you find a provider.
Caring for an aging parent is hard, both financially and logistically. Build your village of supporters to make sure that your parents are well cared for and that you don’t burn out in the process. A compassionate and knowledgeable geriatric care manager can play a huge role in lifting some of the burden from your shoulders.
An attorney who specializes in estate planning should be part of your team, too. Contact us today to make sure you and your parents are ready for whatever comes next.
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Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.