What I Learned Hiring a Care Manager for My Mom

EasyLiving clients share their stories and insights from working with a care manager. We hope these help you if you’re considering hiring an aging life care manager or just struggling with caregiving issues and not sure where to turn.

Contact an Aging Wisely expert if you’d like to learn more.

The Difference Between Case Management and Geriatric Care Management (Or Aging Life Care Management)

We were lucky to get Mom into a community program which offered her some in-home support services. One benefit was a case manager. He had an initial visit with Mom and then provided telephone coordination. The program also included quarterly visits. Mom had regular caregivers in the home too. But, I live several hours away. We started encountering some issues with the caregivers but this wasn’t something the case manager could address. So, I was constantly contacting the home care agency. Not having eyes on the situation, it was hard to really know what was going on.

I decided to try a consultation and some oversight from a care manager to see if it could save me emergency flights into town. It was amazing what the care manager garnered on her first visits and was able to accomplish on subsequent visits. She even explained that we had the choice of other home care providers within the program. We were able to secure a better situation for Mom. Once she set things up, we retained the care manager to be on call for crises. What a relief to hear they could respond to emergencies any time. — Joan

The Dollars and Sense of Getting the Right Help

Yes, it cost us. But, looking back a year later the balance sheet indicates more savings than costs. Our care manager analyzed Mom’s medical expenses and Medicare plan and found two areas for significant savings. We stopped going through rounds of crises which always came with costs to Mom and missed time from work for me. The care manager even tapped into a local program to get some reduced-cost home repairs done. And, that’s to say nothing of the emotional payoff.

I’d recommend just talking to a geriatric care manager. Find out specifically what they can do and how much time they might need to be involved. Be honest about your cost apprehensions. Ask them if they’d be able to help you find assistance programs. — Bob

When we asked around, people kept telling us about state assistance programs. Mom didn’t qualify. She had just a bit too much. It didn’t make a lot of sense that someone who saved a bit now couldn’t get services she needed. No one told us about geriatric care managers. I was doing a bunch of internet research when I came across a caregiver’s blog that talked about their geriatric care manager.

I guess everyone was afraid to recommend something that costs money. Yet, they couldn’t offer us any free resources either.

Well, except for one hospital mentioning free “placement services”. We talked with them but quickly found out it wasn’t for us, as we wanted to keep Mom at home. When, down the road, we began to look at ALFs, we asked the care manager for help because she knew the situation. She was able to find just the right place for Mom. The facility was in Mom’s old neighborhood and would continue taking her to her church. They offered tiered services, which met Mom’s needs and budget. Our care manager made sure we asked the right questions and looked at the little (but important) things like food, activities and the facility layout. It was worth paying to know we got an unbiased, expert opinion. I learned that the placement services get paid via referral fees (it was simply presented as a “free service”).

We discovered how important it is to know all the resources and how they work. And, we discovered many people will make assumptions about what you will pay for or can afford. — Mary L.

Family Issues Often Need an Outsider

My brother was a bit reluctant, thinking some outsider was going to take over. The geriatric care manager totally won him and Dad over. She asked for everyone’s input when she did the assessment. Her recommendations clearly weren’t just some generic filler. I had never realized there was a professional trained to deal in these family aging issues. I also learned how much more an outsider can sometimes get accomplished. We all had too many feelings wrapped up in the situation to deal with it rationally. — Liz

The Experts Know How to Approach the Situation

Even in the first meeting, I could see progress. The conversation changed completely. I thought because I knew my parents so well, I could handle these things best. Well, I’ll readily admit I was wrong. Now I tell people it’s a lot like handling legal or tax matters. I’m so much better off with someone who has professional training and deals with this stuff every day. — Marie

How to Find the Right Fit

I also found EasyLiving’s website and downloaded the Checklist for Hiring a Geriatric Care Manager. When I called the care managers, I used the list to gather information. We finally found someone who not only had the proper credentials, but lots of experience in Mom’s condition. It was really helpful to know what to ask. I was especially glad we didn’t go with the first person someone recommended. Mom would not have been happy and I think it would have created more problems than solutions. Sometimes we forget we should be discerning consumers with elder care services just like with anything else. Actually, more so! — Dan

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