Titles Being Used In Geriatric Care
If you have had conversations on how to assist aging loved ones, you are probably familiar with the labels of geriatric consultant, geriatric care manager, placement agent, care advisor, and senior living advisor. Each of these kinds of workers has something valuable to offer when particular needs arise, such as health care, housing, and other resources. It is important to know the difference because these positions can involve drastically different services, costs, and education levels. This article will explain these positions’ specialties and what to know before consulting them for assistance.
Some people use the term “geriatric consultant” interchangeably with “geriatric care manager”, but the latter position tends to work more personally and within the family. Geriatric consultants direct seniors to resources such as meal programs, lawyers, and government entitlements, in addition to helping their clients negotiate the bureaucracy along the way. Resources may also include the family itself when clients have dementia or other incapacitation requiring that their loved ones step in to make decisions on their behalf. Otherwise, geriatric consultants focus more on seniors’ recourse to the community than on their everyday lives at home.
Becoming a geriatric consultant generally but not always requires a bachelor’s or advanced degree. It may be helpful to ask if the consultant is certified and licensed. Geriatric consultants can be especially beneficial to low-income families with difficulty navigating the resources available to them; in any case, there are sometimes different services available for different budgets.
Geriatric Care Manager
If you and your loved one need help to form a care plan, a geriatric care manager can help you negotiate within your family. They act the way an unbiased relative would: addressing emotional issues and difficult topics, making home visits and care plans for the long and short term, and relieving caregiver stress. Additionally, they coordinate medical services and caregivers. Geriatric care managers help seniors find local resources as geriatric consultants do, but with the additional focus of getting everyone emotionally prepared for the changes. For instance, they can help you negotiate when a shift from in-home care to senior living may be necessary.
Geriatric care managers are typically nurses or social workers with licenses and degrees. You should consider asking if they are licensed, how long they have worked in this position if their company involves emergency assistance and home care, and how much they cost. After all, geriatric care managers can be expensive since they charge by the hour and are not covered by most insurance plans or Medicare; hiring one can only save you money as a long-term investment.
When your loved one needs to consider housing options based on their specific care needs, placement agents work with families to determine exactly what their housing and care needs are. They are particularly helpful when seniors and their families live far apart, in which case you should remotely consult one near your loved one. Placement agencies will listen to medical, financial, religious, cultural, and location-based needs and offer a tour of the facilities they recommend. Good placement agencies try to recommend the most comfortable, amenable, and affordable facilities near you.
Placement agencies can help seniors and their families navigate insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid during a move. Many placement agencies do not require payment, but may have a contract with the facilities they recommend; make sure their recommendations are truly within your loved one’s best interest, contractually or otherwise. It is also useful to find placement agents that know the area, speak your language, can sort out insurance with you, and can work on short notice (especially when hospital discharges require seniors to find safer living spaces quickly).
Like geriatric care managers, care advisors assume the role of an unbiased relative ready to sort through complicated emotions and topics. They provide information on the process of moving and other life changes without directly coordinating them. Care advisors often speak directly to seniors’ families, especially in cases where their loved one is incapacitated. They offer many of the same services as senior living advisors but particularly recommend housing through the lens of the care your loved one needs –the care advisor’s primary focus.
Unlike geriatric care managers, many care advisors offer their services for free. Consequently, they might not necessarily have the same level of experience; consider asking what they know about assisted living, insurance, regulations, and laws. Many of them are regionally-based, so they can be a helpful starting point for seniors who live far away from their families. The first step to working out a plan with a care advisor should be to ask how they can specifically help you because they might be able to point to considerations you have overlooked.
Senior Living Advisor
Senior living advisors specialize in helping seniors transition to different housing, including long-term plans not prompted by immediate changes in health. Otherwise, they do much of the same work that care advisors do –giving and receiving information and making recommendations without directly coordinating the change itself. They likewise offer phone calls, tours, and continued service up until the point at which the client is settled.
Like placement agencies, senior living advisors usually do not require a payment because they receive it from networked communities. However, their less direct involvement in the move and potential lack of networking in some communities they recommend can make them less likely to promote communities based on contracts alone. Consulting a senior living advisor can be a helpful starting point when there is no rush to move, whereas you would want a quickly-working placement agent when sudden health changes require a sudden move.
Know Who to Consult
On the above list, education and licensing often correspond with higher expense and expertise. Fundamentally, geriatric care managers and care advisors specialize in the care, placement agents and senior living advisors specialize in housing, and geriatric consultants specialize in resources. Because of how synonymously people use these terms, it may be helpful to conduct a search regarding your loved one’s specific needs and find the right organization based on the compatible services they offer. Your loved one’s current community can be invaluable in directing you to the right assistance.
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