When you’re taking care of an elderly loved one at home, it can be challenging. There are doctors’ appointments to drive to, medications to pick up, and specialist recommendations to consider. Add in physical or occupational therapy for your senior two or three times a week, or injections/infusions from a visiting nurse, and care coordination can become a full-time job.
And you may be able to handle all this responsibility if you didn’t already have a full-time job, or a part-time one, or a family of your own to care for. You may even have all three! Perhaps you’re also dealing with your own health or personal issues, and rarely have a moment to catch your breath while attending to your senior’s needs. What’s more, you may worry their needs aren’t being met because of all the confusion and trouble communicating between practitioners.
You can’t help but wonder . . . is there a better way?
Professional care coordination can help
If you’re great with making and returning phone calls, using spreadsheets to keep track of appointments and medications, and know about your community’s resources for the elderly, it’s possible to address care coordination all on your own. But sometimes, getting help in this area can be a boon to both you and your senior.
Professional care coordination managers are often licensed and experienced in gerontology, social work, or nursing. This gives them a special advantage when it comes to planning and implementing changes that allow your senior to enjoy the highest quality of life.
What can a care coordinator do for your senior?
There are many services a care coordinator can provide for your loved one. Here is just a sample:
- Arrange a comprehensive assessment to determine your senior’s goals
- Complete an individualized care plan in order to meet those goals
- Perform a home safety evaluation
- Arrange for medication management by a licensed nurse
- Accompany your senior to medical appointments, or arrange for this
- Coordinate complex medical care
- Organize physical and occupational therapy visits
- Obtain doctor-prescribed durable medical equipment
- Coordinate home care services such as housekeeping or meal preparation
- Arrange a referral for a nutritionist to assist with meeting dietary needs
- Assist with long-term care planning, if needed
- Explain the senior’s insurance options
- Provide consultations, education, referrals and support for the senior’s family
What to look for in a care coordination specialist
If you’re looking for a care coordination specialist, make sure they’re associated with a reputable home care agency or similar businesses. The best coordinators are often affiliated with professional organizations such as the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) or the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
Don’t hesitate to ask for references from previous or current clients; the coordinator should be able to supply several that showcase their ability to monitor your senior’s health care and access community resources. Also, they should be capable of advocating, when necessary, for your loved one in order to ensure their goals for safety, health, and independence are met.
In addition, care coordinators should demonstrate a certain understanding of the elderly and their challenges. This often translates into a caring attitude when meeting with the senior and his or her family. They should be kind, patient, and sympathetic to your loved one’s needs. They also need to be able to boil down complex medical, psycho-social, and insurance options with ease, so that you all can make the best decisions possible for your loved one.
Care coordination managers can help ease your burden
Not only can care coordination managers relieve some of the stress associated with caregiving, but they can anticipate problems before they start. These are things that wouldn’t ordinarily occur to a person who isn’t familiar with gerontology, such as the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, or knowing when a higher level of care is recommended. With a care coordinator on your side, your senior can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing they will be looked after – now and always.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.