When taking care of an elderly loved one, a common theme one hears is “I feel so overwhelmed.” And no wonder! What with the cooking, cleaning, medical transportation, and personal care homebound seniors often need, any normal person would be completely exhausted. Of course, that’s not including all the important decisions you may need to make regarding their medications, possible long-term care, and coordinating various auxiliary services. If this picture describes you, it may be time to think about getting a care manager.
“What is a care manager?” you ask? It’s a gerontological expert (often with an advanced degree in nursing or social work) who helps families like yours access, manage, and monitor health care and community resources for seniors. These experts advocate for your loved one while at the same time making sure they’re on target with their goals for safety and well-being.
Take a look below at a few scenarios where your elder might benefit from a care manager.
In a sticky situation? Care managers to the rescue!
Scenario #1: Your elderly loved one has recently become homebound, and you’re unsure what services they need (if any), as well as how often.
Care manager magic: A knowledgeable care manager can visit your senior at home, perform a thorough assessment of their needs, and present their recommendations and options to you and your loved ones.
Scenario #2: Your loved one recently came home from the hospital, where he or she was designated as a “fall risk” upon discharge. You’re not sure exactly what this means, or how to prevent future falls.
Care manager magic: An experienced care manager can go through your loved one’s home room-by-room, noting objects and hazards (such as a frayed rug or cracked floor) that may cause your senior to suffer a fall. They can also analyze your senior’s medical history and current prescription list for factors related to falls (such as getting up at night frequently to use the restroom due to an enlarged prostate).
Scenario #3: Your loved one has so many doctors and specialists you have trouble keeping track – and you can’t accompany them to every single appointment, even though you know they need it.
Care manager magic: An experienced caregiver can coordinate numerous complicated medical appointments on your senior’s behalf, as well as organize transportation for them. He or she can also arrange to have someone, such as a certified home health aide, accompany your loved one on visits to the doctors.
Scenario #4: You’re exhausted trying to keep up with all the housekeeping, chores, and meal preparation your loved one is physically unable to do themselves. You need help – fast!
Care manager magic: Trust a friendly caregiver to contact a local, reputable agency and coordinate these services. They can arrange for things such as light housekeeping, meal prep, and other tasks around the home so that you and your loved one can sit back and relax!
Scenario #5: You can’t make sense of all your loved one’s medications, including the correct dosages, time of day to take them, and whether they can be taken with certain foods or beverages. You’re afraid of accidentally harming your loved one if you make a mistake.
Care manager magic: There’s no need to be afraid any longer. Qualified care managers have access to a large network of other health professionals – including nurses who provide home medication management. They can arrange for an RN (Registered Nurse) or LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) to come to your senior’s home and assist with dispensing and keeping track of complicated prescriptions.
Don’t wait to seek help from a care manager
If you’re in charge of looking after a senior, don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed before getting help. The sooner you seek a care manager’s help, the sooner you’ll have access to the resources, assistance, and information you need. This way, you can support your senior better than ever, while preventing yourself from burning out. Now if that’s not a great way to manage care, then I don’t know what is!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.