What is an elder care coordinator?
Also called an elder care manager, a senior care coordinator or a geriatric care manager, your elder care coordinator helps your family navigate the complexities of aging.
How do you describe an elder care coordinator to people who are already coordinating care?
One challenging part of describing Life Care Planning and Elder Care Coordination is that most people have never heard of it. Almost all families will need it but most don’t even know it is a thing at all. They just assume that care coordination is something that families manage on their own as their parents age. This article will help you be aware of a resource for you and your family. Elder care coordinators have a wealth of knowledge and experience about caring for people as they age.
There is an analogy in healthcare. It is common knowledge that as we age we use our healthcare system more often. People visit doctors and specialists more often and have more healthcare procedures as they age. It is a natural part of aging. This trend of more access to healthcare as we age results in more communication and coordination of healthcare. We will schedule more appointments, plan more visits, and travel to and from doctors more often. We spend more time on our healthcare as we age.
Our care needs increase as we age.
Just like healthcare, as we age we need more help caring for our basic daily needs. At this point in your life, when you visit the doctor you get in your car and drive there. What if you couldn’t drive? That would require that you rely on someone else for a ride. What if you needed the help of two people to get in and out of the car? What if you could only be driven by a wheelchair accessible vehicle? This limits the number of people who could provide a ride. It would increase the amount of time it takes and how soon you could reach an appointment. Eventually, some people need full time help navigating their healthcare and daily care needs. When a person’s care needs become too great, they might turn to skilled nursing facilities.
These days, most people age at home. It is more comfortable and less expensive than living in residential skilled care facilities. As a result, they spend years with increasing care needs at home managed by their social network. Their friends, family and neighbors help them.
Who manages this care? Who assesses and knows what level of care is sufficient and appropriate? How will a family make sure that aging parents connect with their healthcare providers, can take care of themselves and are safe at home? Who will anticipate the next change in care that could be coming?
Surveys show that 75% of Americans over the age of 65 will need help with care at some point in their lives. The average stay in a skilled nursing facility is 3 years. At over $9,000 per month, people are aging at home for as long as they can.
Aging at home and dad shouldn’t be shoveling the driveway again.
After a lifetime of shoveling snow off the driveway, there comes a time when someone can no longer clear the drive.
Some of the care coordination responsibilities naturally fall to the adult children of their aging parents.
“Your father is out there in this cold shoveling the drive again, son. The last time he did this he had to lie flat on the hardwood floor for a week his back hurt so much. And today is colder and twice the snow.”
A caring son and daughter might have a conversation with their father and suggest a snow removal service. They even might offer to pay for it, if cost is an issue. If they don’t live nearby and have their own snow removal service, they will need to research companies, prices and availability online. Phone calls will need to be made and contracts signed. This is one tiny example of how aging affects life at home.
And there might be times where care needs change more quickly than a family anticipates.
Mom might fall at home and spend two weeks in a rehab residential rehab facility. Can she safely return home? Is she likely to fall again? What home modifications are possible and necessary to help her be more safe at home? Are there resources to help pay for those modifications? Who can actually make them? How much do they cost?
At this point, the family reaches the limit of their knowledge and understanding of the aging and care process. They do not know what to do. An elder care coordinator knows or finds the resources available to help people stay in their homes for as long as possible.
Families without a care coordinator miss out on obvious help and solutions
Often, when a problem like this arises, just having a resource to call makes all the difference. Families without access to an elder care coordinator do not understand what resources are available, do not have solutions to specific problems and will not anticipate changes that are likely to come with aging.
An elder care coordinator is a professional with experience in the areas of aging and senior care. They often come from backgrounds in social services, nursing, healthcare, counseling, or gerontology. They use their unique experience and knowledge to help families and aging parents navigate the complexities of elder care.
What are the primary functions of elder care coordination?
Assesses and monitors care needs as clients age
Plans for future needs and problem-solves immediate needs
Educates, supports and advocates
Coaches families and family caregivers
Navigates the patchwork of private, state, local and federal options for financial support
Many families become aware of elder care coordination during a care crisis.
Often clients arrive (find us) because they find themselves in a a care crisis. A care crisis is when a family is scrambling to make sure that aging parents are safe and cared for. After a fall, one spouse may have to enter a residential rehab facility, for example. If this spouse has been serving as a primary caregiver for the other spouse, then the family needs to find help for care immediately.
An elder care coordinator often starts their work with an assessment. If there is a care crisis, the care coordinator might discover the care needs over the phone quickly to solve the crisis. For clients who plan early for what kind of care they will need, the assessment could be a home visit. During a home visit the elder care coordinator will consider the person’s safety, their abilities and needs. It is a holistic assessment because the elder care coordinator will also consider resources available for support. A single spouse with no adult children living in the area will have fewer family resources to help with immediate support and care.
After the initial assessment during a care crisis, the elder care coordinator will immediately connect the family and elder couple with resources that suit their needs. If someone is available to help with care during the evening, but not during the day, local day care centers could be a solution. A reputable contractor could be scheduled to make alterations to the home to help with access, mobility and safety.
Avoiding a care crisis with your elder care coordinator
Absent a current crisis, the elder care coordinator proactively anticipates aging needs. The elder care coordinator will create a Life Care Plan. This comprehensive Life Care Plan comprehensive document lists current and future care needs. It also lists resources available for those needs. Your Life Care Plan will describe the plan for what changes could come, the roles of the different family members and what resources are available to pay for the care.
With a Life Care Plan in place, a family makes one phone call to avoid a crisis – to the elder care coordinator to manage any care changes easily.
An elder care coordinator is a professional with extensive knowledge of local resources for aging and care. The elder care coordinator helps families navigate different levels of care required during the aging process. An elder care coordinator educates, informs and communicates how a family may best support an aging family member.
How does an elder care coordinator support your family:
Provides a way to discuss difficult topics and complex issues
Makes home visits to evaluate needs
Evaluates in-home safety, modifications and care needs
Addresses emotional concerns and needs
Suggests and connects families with services
Makes short- and long-term plans for care
Helps with care personnel selection
Coordinates continuing medical services
Evaluates other living arrangements
Assists with placement in short or long-term residential care
Connects with other professionals
Coordinates personal, private and state financial resources for care
Provides caregiver education, support and relief
Hammond Law Group has over 17 years helping families plan for the care they deserve. Attend one of our Life Care Planning client workshops (client workshop page link here) to learn more. Or call us today for a Life Care Planning consultation with no obligation.
Join us for our upcoming Life Care Planning Workshop to learn more!
Open to all Hammond Law Group Clients, Successor Trustees, Guests and The General Public.
The Plan You’ve Surely Overlooked:
How Life Care Planning Secures Your Future
Thursday, August 31st at 4:00pm Colorado Springs & Live Webinar Via Zoom
A workshop for all Hammond Law Group Clients, guests and general public!