The odds are high that at some point families will seek home health services or other direct care so that an aging loved one can live safely at home. According to government statistics, an American turning 65 today has an almost 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services or supports, with women needing care for an average of 3.7 years, and men for 2.2 years.
For many families, finding the right care for an aging adult or individual with disabilities can be stressful and confusing. If it’s the first time the family has been in a caregiving situation, they’re often faced with making important decisions while emotions are running high. Sometimes it’s a sudden health crisis that forces the issue. Dad’s doctor says it isn’t safe for him to drive anymore…how will he get to his appointments, to the store, and wherever else he needs to go?
Quite commonly, adult children of aging parents struggle with difficult questions related to home health options, finances, and legal concerns. It can all seem very overwhelming. Fortunately, care managers specialize in exactly these issues. They provide expert guidance on challenges ranging from how to choose the most appropriate home care services to how to apply for state and federal programs.
Care managers are trained in any of several fields such as nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology. Their holistic approach starts with a thorough assessment of the individual’s physical, medical and mental health status, functioning, social circumstances, and environment in order to recommend a plan of care. As a vital member of the health care team, the care manager provides:
- Advocacy, support and assistance to find the right level of care that will meet the needs of the person and his/her family. The care manager can recommend and monitor home care services, make referrals to legal and financial experts, and assist in finding state and local resources.
- Care coordination by communicating with the person’s health care providers and making sure that everyone is on the same page.
- Assistance with long-distance caregiving, serving as the “eyes and ears” for concerned family members who live far away and are not familiar with local services.
- Education and coaching to families on what to expect if the aging person has dementia or another chronic illness.
- Assistance with housing transitions.
- An objective viewpoint to help families resolve conflicts concerning care.
In general, more people use long-term care services at home than at facilities. Care managers can play a vital role in helping families choose the most appropriate services and make caregiving decisions that are in the best interests of all concerned.