Old age isn’t for sissies. Or for their caregivers, who often juggle full-time jobs, families of their own and other responsibilities. Taking care of an elderly loved one can be an overwhelming, challenging, emotionally draining "job."

And, yes, sometimes it does take a village. We’ve found that one of the most helpful people is a Geriatric Care Manager, an expert that helps families determine what kind of help is needed and plans and coordinates that plan of action. They’re usually licensed social workers or nurses and many are specialists in specific areas such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Their insider knowledge about private and public resources and clinical services is a godsend and particularly essential when your loved one lives hundreds of miles away.

Geriatric Care Managers (GCM) can provide one-time or ongoing assistance. What exactly can they do? The list is endless: assess needs, create a long-term care plan, coordinate services, act as the liaison between family, doctors, and caregivers, schedule doctor appointments, order Rx refills and confer with home health aides.

Many people may think that GCMs carry too high a price tag. And while they are expensive (anywhere from $70- $250 an hour depending on location) and not covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid (tho they are sometimes covered by Long-Term Care Policies), they can also save you money in the long run by focussing on the services you need at the moment and making efficient use of financial resources. And the peace of mind? That’s priceless.

That's what I discovered when I hired a GCM to help my own father, who lived 3,000 miles away from me. The GCM went to his house every two weeks- and along with her other duties-managed his medications, took him to the doctor- and then gave me detailed accounts of the visits and my Dad's condition. It was not only a relief knowing someone competent and caring was helping him, but it provided the missing link in our team and made it much stronger. Everyone was the better for it.

Some of you may have never heard of a GCM. But the industry hopes to change that this month, which is GCM month. For more information on hiring a GCM, you can call us, check the "Medical Services" section of the Seniority Matters Directory, or consult with the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers website. Don't you feel better already?

Author's Bio: 

Nancy Strickman Stein, who holds a Masters in Public Health from Yale University; a PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health from the University of Miami; and more than 25 years of experience as an active health care professional and advocate in south Florida. It was her own experience and lessons learned as a caregiver for her parents that motivated her to make the care-giving journey easier for others. Seniority Matters is South Florida's most respected resource for family caregivers.

The Seniority Matters website features a comprehensive, searchable directory to help you discover pre-screened service providers and other helpful resources on your own. This “self-service” approach is free to use and a real time-saver for those who know the kind of support that’s needed.

A searchable, online directory is available 24/7 for those who favor a DIY approach. Individual consultations are available for those times when care is needed urgently and family members need an experienced and well-connected person to guide them.

Contact Nancy at http://seniritymatters.om