A New Strategy to Meet the Needs of the Elderly
Geriatric Care Management:
Getting older isn't what it used to be. There was a time when
senior members of the community lived amongst their extended
family, relying on their children or grandchildren for support.
But as the Baby Boomer generation pushes the population's media
age higher and higher, and as each generation seems to move
farther and farther from its geographical roots, the act of
younger generations caring for their elderly relatives is
becoming less common. Nowadays, the elderly must find
alternative ways to receive the type of care they need, though
many seniors are reluctant to move into retirement homes or
assisted living facilities.
This demographic shift and the elderly's general aversion to
retirement homes point to the need for something called
geriatric care management. Once the unpaid job of a relative,
neighbor, or community member with a heart of gold, this
emerging profession serves a growing population of seniors with
a blend of social work, psychology, gerontology and advocacy.
When younger family members are too distant or busy to help
their elders adapt to declining health or ability, someone has
to do the job. That person must have a case-by-case
understanding of what options are practical, what resources are
available, and how to connect clients with the services they
need. He or she must have the personality to invite confidence
and the resilience to be there for minor or major emergencies.
If you're considering a career as a geriatric care manager
(GCM), you should be proficient in six areas:
* Assessing your client means evaluating his or her medical,
social and economic situation. Does this person show signs of
dementia? Is there a support network, and is it reliable? Is
home care an affordable option over a move to assisted living?
Many of the decisions facing your client's family members will
be the basis of your assessment.
* Planning involves setting goals that are both optimal and
realistic for your client, and that will maximize available
resources. As a case manager working for a family, you must
respect your clients' wishes and ideas.
* For implementation of these goals, be available and ready to
intervene, whether dealing with current crises or preventing
them from happening.
* Through coordination, you connect your client to any
appropriate services, such as medical care or home assistance
* Monitoring your client's ongoing care means that you're the
liaison between all members of the team you've assembled.
* Evaluation is similar to your first assessment, but as an
ongoing view from an insider's perspective. Now that your client
is on track toward a specific goal, it's your job to determine
his or her progress and whether those goals might need to change.
This can be a demanding workload, especially if you're handling
anywhere from five to 30 simultaneous cases. But when you
consider that GCMs' average hourly rate is $74, with some
established professionals charging up to $200 and billing in
15-minute increments, it's easy to see the advantages of
entering this growing profession.
While there are no legal requirements for establishing a GCM
practice, at the minimum you should have an understanding of
gerontology, whether through previous professional background or
extensive self-study. You should also be familiar with the legal
and financial realities of the elderly, and know how to best
focus your motivational and conflict resolution techniques.
There are many ways to build your skill set, although a
comprehensive approach will save time and money.
Consider, for instance, the online certificate program in
Geriatric Care Management from Kaplan University's School of
Continuing and Professional Studies, which is recommended for
health and human services professionals actively interested in
this evolving sector of the health care industry. During
Kaplan's 12-month, non-credit program, you'll work through seven
courses that should provide all the information you'll need.
Introduction to Geriatric Care Management begins with a
professional overview of what this market demands and what
you'll require to succeed in it.
Aging as a Reality approaches the science of gerontology Here
you'll learn about age's physical and mental effects on the
human system, along with medical intervention, cultural
perceptions and public policy.
Psychosocial Issues in Aging examines how elderly people handle
grief, isolation, family dynamics, sexuality, change and hope.
Balancing Age and Independence addresses how, as a GCM, you can
build the support systems that will allow seniors to continue
living on their own or to transition with comfort and dignity
into an assisted living situation.
Financial Considerations of the Elderly explores the world of
investments, pensions and retirement plans, the maze of Medicare
and other public assistance programs, and practical concerns
such as housing and long-term care.
Legal and Ethical Issues in Geriatric Care Management discusses
elder abuse or neglect, and end-of-life decisions. GCMs will
also learn about mandatory reporting laws in the states where
they intend to practice.
Successful Aging introduces health and wellness strategies,
empowerment, adjustment to change, and the positive trends among
an aging population in a youth-oriented culture.
Kaplan University, headquartered in Davenport, IA, operates 69
campuses in 16 states and is accredited by the Higher Learning
Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and
Schools. The GCM certificate program, launched in December 2004,
is the latest addition to Kaplan's Health Care Pathways series.
You can participate from anywhere in the world with a personal
computer, email and web access, and the ability to handle MS
Word documents. During the recommended 8 to 12 hours of weekly
study time, online message board discussions will put you on
equal footing with your fellow students. Instructors can easily
monitor your progress through the coursework, and you'll have
access to faculty members and academic advisers throughout the
With the American population living longer and the elderly
requiring a more integrated approach to their care than ever
before, certificate programs like Kaplan University's Geriatric
Care Management program play a large role in preparing the
workforce to handle this growing need. At the same time, it
empowers its graduates to jumpstart a great career while making
a big difference in the lives of elderly persons who can use a