If you live far from your parent(s) and only visit them once or twice a year, it can be a shock when you arrive at their house and realize that things are worse than you thought they were.
Many of the elderly prize their independence, and it is often difficult for them to admit they needs assistance with home or personal maintenance. The adult child can also feel like an unwanted intruder into his or her parents’ personal affairs.
How do you tell if your mom or dad needs home care if you live farther away? Here are some indications:
- Your parent seems “off” when you speak to him or her
- The neighbors are calling you because they are worried
- You get a call from the emergency room that your mother or father has fallen
- Your parents’ physician is calling you with concerns
- They Forget key dates, and celebrations
- They do not participate in family events/gatherings
These are some of the red flags. How do you get an objective view of what is really going on?
At this point, the services of a Care Manager (CM) can be of immense help. A Care Manager is a licensed professional, usually a registered nurse, with special experience helping families navigate through the labyrinth of available healthcare services. A CM will visit your parents at their home and assess their physical and cognitive status. During the assessment, the CM will discreetly evaluate how well the home is being maintained, if any changes could make the home safer, and if there are medical issues or cognitive challenges that need to be addressed. If there appears to be any issues or if a parent needs skilled nursing care, the CM will notify and work directly with your parent’s physician(s).
The expense of employing a Care Manager is easily balanced by the cost of multiple trips to your parents’ home, missed work days, and the disruption to your family’s routine. Having a CM also helps reduce caregiver stress.
The scope of services that a CM can provide is determined by the specific needs of the elder adult and their family. These services include:
- Assessing the elder client’s level of care and developing a plan of care with the client and their family
- Initiating a plan of care (POC) and keeping it moving forward
- Continuously assessing the client and making changes as needed to the POC
- Managing the client’s care for out-of-town family members
- Arranging for the intervention of legal and/or financial professionals, if needed
- Serving as an advocate for the client and the primary caregiver/Power of Attorney
- Supervising and directing the in-home caregivers
- Scheduling and coordinating medical appointments
- Communicating with family members regarding the outcome of medical appointments
- Providing medication management on a regular basis
- Providing anticipatory guidance to avoid issues or problems
As the population ages, Care Managers are becoming an increasingly important member of the health care team. Much like turning to a CPA to assist with the yearly taxes or contacting a lawyer when legal problems arise, it makes sense to use a professional Care Manager to manage the care of our loved ones.