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What to about Mom or Dad?
Find the Expertise You Need in a Professional Geriatric Care Manager

By Cheryl Smith, MA

(Page 1 of 3)

You are managing your time pretty wellóthings are tight and there are activities you would like to add to your schedule, like a yoga class or a new hobby, but you just canít juggle one more thing.

But then something happens that is about to add a huge responsibility to your already overloaded schedule Ė there is a crisis with your elderly parent or relative. The crisis might involve your mom or dad falling and breaking a hip, rear-ending another driver, getting pneumonia, or wandering away and, this time, canít find their way back home.

How do you find the time to add one more thing to a schedule that is already full? How do you take time away from your job or taking care of your own children? You are determined to take care of your parent the same way that they took care of you, but how? Feeling overwhelmed, or giving into a meltdown, is not the only alternative.

Donít get frustrated; get help to deal with this new complex situation. With more than 80 percent of elder care (an average 71 hours a week) provided by family members, an emerging field of geriatric experts known as professional care managers have sprung up to help.

A Professional Perspective

When faced with helping your aging parents make decisions about their future, making sense of the information and wading through the options can be frustrating. Getting an outside perspective from a geriatric care manager can help assess your parentís needs, identify things you may not have considered and create a care plan with possible options and recommendations.

As specialists with extensive education and experience in elder care, geriatric care managers are skilled at assessing the level of help seniors need, changes that should be implemented now or in the future, and scheduling needed care services. Care managers can also identify helpful community resources, monitor needs and be an ongoing source of information.

Sidestep Complicated Family Dynamics

If youíre finding it a frustrating task to talk to your parent about closing off the upstairs of their home to prevent falls, installing bath safety equipment, giving up the car keys, or wearing an ID bracelet for those walks around the block, youíre not alone. Elderly parents often find it humiliating to transition to receiving advice, direction or physical care from their own children. But in the same arena, a professional outsider can step up to the plate and do it with panache.

A professional starts with a level playing field that creates a feeling of equality for the elderly. Your parent may feel more comfortable speaking of sensitive areas with someone outside of family dynamics. At the very least, the elderly are more likely to accept suggestions from a third party with a listening ear. To your benefit, the geriatric care manager will present a view to your parent that is unbiased by your personal stress, emotionally-charged worry, and any unconscious agendas.

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