5 Ways a Geriatric Care Manager Can Simplify Your Life
“Our life is frittered away by detail….Simplify, simplify.” You would think that life gets simpler as we get older. Instead, it can become more complex as we enter the golden years. For example, health issues such as physical problems, dementia or cognitive decline can complicate life for you and/or family members. Drawing on their Quaker tradition, Intervention Associates, a care management and guardianship service in Philadelphia, is known for their success in solving complex problems because of their unique ability to simplify.
Simplicity is a built-in value in the way Intervention Associates approach the complexities of their clients’ lives.
Here are five ways a geriatric care manager can simplify your life.
Judy Siderer, a senior and a geriatric care manager at Intervention Associates, perhaps knows better than anyone else the ways care management can simplify your life. She’s been at Intervention Associates from its inception. She has dealt with complex cases and has never shied away from one.
Tackling the elephant—building relationship
When Siderer and her team enter the life of a client, they begin with relationship building. Relationship building is critical because it engenders trust. The elderly population is one of the most vulnerable in our society; therefore, Siderer cautions that trust must be earned and built. She and her team begin building this trust by developing a relationship with their clients immediately, even the ones who are resistant initially:
What we do is come in a very non-threatening way. We come in with warmth and friendliness and openness. We begin to build the relationship with that client immediately, from the time we walk in the door. We listen to them. We hear what they have to say.
Sometimes this relationship-building can get complicated when you’ve been hired by the family to care for a loved one, but not for Siderer and her team:
There’s a social work mantra: “You start where the client is.” I feel that that’s really important, because I think these clients need control. They need to know that they’re still in control of their lives. So, we try to meet their perceived needs as well as what the family is calling us in for. It’s a matter of building that relationship and building trust.
Understanding the complexity of aging
Siderer, as a geriatric expert, understands the complexity of aging. As a result, she and her team are detail-oriented, staying on top of all the details in their clients’ lives.
Like members of an elephant herd, they are active and engaged in every aspect of their clients’ lives.
Home care: Depending on the situation with the client, there are many things that a geriatric care manager does. The care manager is constantly assessing the client’s needs at the same time the care manager is coordinating services for the client. They are also overseeing and supervising. For example, if there’s care in the home, they would oversee the aides and the caregivers that the person might have at home. The care manager makes sure their clients are living the best quality life they can live by ensuring that the home is running well. They are responsible for everything that goes on in the home for that person.
Medications: They might have to be responsible for their client’s medications, making sure they are arranged for them. Some people obviously cannot do their own medications themselves, so they arrange to have pill packs sent out from the pharmacy. These are pre-packaged medication of each dosage someone may need. The client’s morning and evening medications would be in separate little packs; there would be no need to sift through bottles. This allows for convenience, ease on the side of care manager and clients, better performance with meds as well, and it minimizes chances of overmedicating or not taking meds in correct dosage or at correct times.
Medical appointments: The care manager may help in advocacy and in navigating the complex medical system. At times, Siderer may accompany her clients to their medical appointments. Sometimes there is a lot of anxiety involved in going to the doctor and, as a result, it is difficult for some seniors to communicate effectively with their doctor. Siderer’s presence also reassures her clients that they have the care and medical services they need after they leave the doctor’s office.
Socialization: Connection is vital to one’s health and survival; therefore, even in the area of socialization, geriatric care managers like Siderer can make sure this need is met.
These are only some examples, but the involvement of the geriatric care manager is extensive and can even involve the legal system.
Integrating expertise and experience
As an expert in geriatric care, Siderer and her team bring comfort and confidence to their clients and save families a lot of angst and time. Their presence gives the loved one and their family peace of mind to know that their “loved one is cared for by someone who is experienced and who knows the resources, who knows the systems, who really cares for their loved one, and will keep in touch with the family so that they know what’s going on, and work as a team.”
Siderer is knowledgeable about all the resources that are available in the Philadelphia community to help the elderly. She knows how to navigate the healthcare system and how to access federal and state programs to help her clients and families.
Using a team approach
You don’t have to do life alone. Siderer and her team at Intervention Associates truly believe this axiom and apply it even when it comes to working with one another. They have a team approach with meetings and trainings. There are some professional care management companies that are operated by one person. The complexity of care, however, can become challenging for one individual. But as a team, this load is shared amongst the care managers at Intervention Associates. Siderer feels that this team approach is one of the main reasons that makes Intervention Associates such a solid organization.
This team approach is also shared with families. “We’re all in this together, to help their parents so they feel very much included and they’re up-to-date as to what is going on with their parent,” Siderer adds.
A team approach can simplify life for everyone involved.
Hiring a geriatric care manager can simplify life tremendously, especially when family conflicts arise, as in deciding end-of-life care. Siderer recounts one of her experiences:
In a family I worked with, there were a few children and they did not all agree on end-of-life care and hospice services. We met several times as a group and then I arranged for a meeting with the siblings and the physician. We sat down together and, ultimately, we were able to get everybody on the same page and agreed to a plan that was consistent with what the client wanted.
No matter how complex the problem, by building relationships with clients and families, paying attention to the changing details of aging, and integrating expertise and experience, Siderer and her team at Intervention Associates in Philadelphia can solve it and simplify life for clients and their families.