Care managers are specially trained professionals who work with individuals and families to assess challenges a person is experiencing, listen to their concerns, and help problem-solve. Assessment, planning, organizing, and monitoring are the four main roles of a care manager.Care managers are often social workers or nurses. They work with many types of individuals, and some have specialized training to work with select types of people in particular. Geriatric care managers, for example, work mainly with older adults or their families.
To find a care manager, contact the county departments of social services and ask for a referral. Another good option is to contact one or more national agencies that certify care managers, such as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) (http://www.caremanager.org). This organization provides a directory of certified care managers who assist older adults and their families. The NAPGCM recommends asking prospective care managers important questions including: Are you licensed in your profession? Are you available for emergencies? and What are your fees?
In case you’re wondering whether a care manager might be right for you, here are a few scenarios in which care managers are useful:
- Emma, an 89-year old widow, lives alone in her home. Her daughter and son live several towns away, and both adult children have families of their own and careers that occupy most of their time. Emma recently became more forgetful and has left the stove on in her kitchen on more than one occasion. Her daughter is concerned, and when she calls Emma to remind her to check the stove, Emma gets frustrated and tells her: “You don’t have to talk to me like I’m your child!” Emma’s daughter doesn’t know what to do about her mom’s safety.
- George is a 75-year old veteran with Parkinson’s disease. His wife died many years ago, and he has been seeing a woman he met in church. Friends notice that George is increasingly withdrawn and not as social as he once was. He spends many days at home, and doesn’t answer their phone calls. The only person who seems to keep in regular communication with him is his female friend. She’s also concerned because George “doesn’t seem as happy as he was” when they first met. George’s friends think he may still mourning the loss of his wife but they’re not sure.
Care managers can help in these situations, and might be able to help in yours. Overall, it is important to find the right care manager for your situation, as well as one with whom you feel comfortable, who fits your budget, and can understand your needs.