Across the country, our population is aging. The number of people who are 65 years old or older is increasing rapidly. While many people are living more actively and healthier into their older years, the majority are coping with chronic health issues which can affect a person's ability to complete daily living activities. This may be the catalyst for seeking assistance from natural supports, such as family, or professional services. However, many older adults are justifiably perplexed by the maze of medical and other service providers, how to maximize their insurance benefits, where to live, and how to preserve dignity and quality of life.
In troubling times when individuals, couples, or families are unclear about what they are dealing with, unsure about their options, or feeling overwhelmed by their situation, involving an Aging Life Care Professional or Care Manager is a great way to get additional support and expert advice. Aging Life Care, also known as geriatric care management, is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges. The expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals can be summarized into 8 knowledge areas: Health and Disability, Financial, Housing, Family, Social Resources, Advocacy, Legal, and Crisis Intervention.
When services are engaged, the Care Manager begins the process with a comprehensive initial assessment, typically completed in the home, to understand the needs and preferences of each client. What is working well and what isn’t? What problems need to be resolved? With this knowledge, the Care Manager will discuss possible solutions and information about options. He or she will provide the support needed for the individual or family to make the right decisions for their situation.
Depending on the needs of the client, this could be a one-time meeting or could lead to a long-term professional relationship. Care Managers can provide on-going care management, monitor outcomes, needs assessment, recommendations, guidance, and advocacy, as requested. Additionally, Care Managers can serve as the eyes and ears to assist out of town family members coordinate care for their loved ones and can serve as peace of mind for individuals with few natural supports who want someone to call in times of need.
Many Care Managers are a part of the Aging Life Care Association. To find an Aging Life Care Professional in your area, visit their website www.aginglifecare.org.
Heather Imhoff, MSW, LMSW, CMC is a certified Care Manager and has been a licensed social worker working older adults and people with physical disabilities for 11 years. She has a special interest in behavioral health and enhancing quality of life. She co-owns and operates Crossroads Aging Care Professionals, LLC in Santa Fe, New Mexico.