I knew I was in a world of trouble when I flew up to visit my elderly mother who lived 700 miles away. I was a Case Manager in Rehabilitation. My job involved coordinating care for people with various disabilities and I noticed changes in Mom that sent up all the red flags. I was an only child. What was I going to do? I had a job and career 700 miles away. . .
I had to find someone like me who specialized in geriatrics and I had to find them quick! Enter Sarah, a Geriatric Care Manager. Why Sarah? She had a plan to help Mom stay at home on her own terms. I hired Sarah on the spot and returned on my scheduled flight home. The first thing Sarah did was go to Mom’s physician with her. Various tests were ordered. My worst fears were realized, Mom was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. Later the Alzheimer diagnosis came. It was Sarah who gave me the shoulder I needed to cry on when she broke the news to me. I knew life would change but in ways I never expected.
With Sarah’s help and various support services that she arranged, my mom remained in her home for 18 months, extremely happy, secure and on her own terms.
What did my Geriatric Care Manager do?
- Went to physician visits to insure appropriate communication and follow up
- Set up medication weekly and had reminders placed all over Mom’s home
- Arranged for Meals on Wheels
- Arranged for a housekeeper who helped with hygiene
- Visited weekly for wellness and safety checks
- Was available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergencies
- Updated me weekly on Mom’s status
- Provided on going assessment which included a change in living arrangements when the time came
All of this meant peace of mind for me!!! When it became obvious that Mom could no longer live alone, it was Sarah who told me it was time for a major life change. She talked to me about options and I decided to sell Mom’s home and move her to a supervised living arrangement close to me.
Being on the receiving end of geriatric care management services was life changing for me. It was one of the most supportive and positive professional relationships I had ever experienced. It extended my mom’s quality of life beyond my expectations and it brought me peace of mind which was priceless.
I decided I wanted to be the care manager who made a difference in their clients and families lives. I sought out a local mentor, took courses in geriatrics and used my case management skills to help people just like me. I quit my stable job and started my own business on a leap of faith and a desire to give to others what I had received. Unlike rehabilitation where your clients generally improve, in geriatrics you often deal with decline in status. It’s often the time when people need you the most.
I have long since retired and Mom is now gone. So many of my clients brought me an abundance of sheer joy and reverence for a life well lived. I rejoiced in their achievements and improvements. I laughed with them. I celebrated with them. I learned from them. I advocated for them. I helped families come to terms with difficult decisions. I held some in my arms as they were dying. So, I give thanks to my mom for being such a great mother and always leading me in the right direction. I am forever grateful to her and to Sarah for leading me to my dream job.
Since my retirement, Geriatric Care Managers are now known as Aging Life Care Experts and the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers has officially changed its name to Aging Life Care Association (www.aginglifecare.org). To find an Aging Life Care Expert in your area, go to the website and type in your zip or city for a list of people who provide service with their credentials. The website also provide resources and articles including the types of questions to ask when looking for professional help.
Kendra retired 5 years ago from her private practice as a Geriatric Care Manager. She had been a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. Kendra was a Certified Case Manager (CCM), Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), and Certified Disability Management Specialist (CDMS). She resides in Hot Springs, Arklansas and is still active in the senior community.