What Is A Geriatric Care Manager? By Amy Fowler
The Heart of our Business: Connecting Customer Care & Technology In honor of National Geriatric Care Manager month, we recently sat down with Amy Fowler, a Geriatric Care Manager who owns her own practice in Asheville, NC. Amy has made the connection of technology being a valuable tool in client care when providing a family with all of the resources available to care for a loved one.
Who is Amy Fowler?
Amy Fowler has worked for more than ten years with a post-acute health care agency. Amy's father was diagnosed with early on-set alzhiemers at age 59. When they were told about his diagnosis, Amy and her mother were not aware of all of the available resources, so they hired a geriatric care manager to help them brainstorm and create a road map to provide the best possible care for her father.
"After that experience being so positive with having a neutral party come in and outline a plan for my family, I realized then that being a geriatric care manager was my calling," says Amy.
She is an Associate Member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers and works in Western North Carolina.
What is a Geriatric Care Manager? Do they only provide services to the elderly?
Professional geriatric care management is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or disabled persons. The goal is to improve the client’s quality of life and reduce family stress through:
Assessment and monitoring
Planning and problem-solving
Education and advocacy
Family caregiver coaching
"What's really fun about being a geriatric care manager is that no one's story is the same and you're always being creative with each person. There is lots of opportunity for brainstorming and coming up with an individual plan. There is no such thing as a template you can follow," says Amy.
Care management is a private pay service that is typically paid for by the hour. The service is not limited to just the elderly. While the majority of care management clients are older adults, many care managers also assist younger adults who face the challenges of disability or serious illness.
Qualified care managers may help people who have: Physical Disabilities Developmental Disabilities, (e.g. Intellectual Disabilities /formerly called Mental Retardation, Down’s Syndrome, Autism, or Asperger’s Syndrome) Brain Injury Mental Health Problems Chronic or Serious Illnesses of any type
Care managers can often help parents who are concerned about a young adult or middle-aged adult child with disabilities. These care managers have experience and credentials to work with all ages. The care manager conducts a comprehensive assessment and helps the family plan for the current and future needs of their adult child.
How have you incorporated assistive technology into your planning?
Over 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes rather than having to go to a facility. So for Amy, the majority of the time when she is interacting with a family, she is looking for solutions that will allow that family member to remain at home and be as independent as possible for as long as possible. That almost always involves the consideration of some type of device or assistive technology.
"Being the best geriatric care manager you can be means knowing what tools and resources are out there and available," says Amy.
Amy explained that most families move at their own pace, even if the situation should be handled more quickly. For that reason, using a device like the medication dispenser allows for independence but also makes sure the individual is taking the right amount of medications at the right time.
"Just putting into place something as simple as a medication dispenser can mean the difference of keeping someone in their home or placing them in a facility," says Amy.
Good Rest, Less Stress, Better Caregiving
"A lot of my families talk about having to sleep with one ear open."
Often times individuals do not intentionally wander, for example, but they might get confused in the evenings or might need assistance when going to the bathroom. This causes family members or caregivers to lose rest.
"Installing a bed pressure pad that alerts the caregiver that their loved one is out of bed allows the caregiver to sleep soundly until there is a need."
How to find a Geriatric Care Manager
Going to https://www.aginglifecare.org/ is a great place to start. This site allows you to enter your zip code and find a care managers closest to you. It will then pull up a list of all of the certified and associate and provisional members.
Other great referral resources:
Elder Law Attorneys, Financial Advisors
State Area Agencies on Aging
Managed Care Organizations or LME's
211 through United Way