Making Connections

Even those with health backgrounds need guidance when it comes to their own loved ones.

Barbara Glickstein, R.N., M.P.H., relied on the advice of several geriatric social workers before moving her mother from Florida back to New York.

“As a nurse, I spent a considerable amount of investigative research time talking to geriatric social workers, who were in my own professional circle, and I called some in Florida where my parents still held a residence, to see whether getting around the clock care for my mother — which would be required given her memory problems, and for safety — was a good decision knowing that all of her children live out of state.”

The social workers pointed out the difficulty of coordinating shift-based care from 1,500 miles away and helped Glickstein think through issues like her mother’s quality of life within various care settings.

A social worker’s main priority is maintaining and enhancing quality of life for the older adult and ensuring optimal functioning in the least restrictive environment.

They can connect you and your loved one with various public and private programs. A social worker can help you apply for appropriate services and cut through red tape, assist with forms like advance directives and be a valuable resource to support caregivers.

You may encounter a geriatric social worker within the hospital, skilled nursing facility, home care, assisted living facility or through a community-based service organization.

Managing Geriatric Care

A geriatric care manager will assess a client’s clinical and social service needs, arrange services, and provide ongoing care monitoring. The care manager coordinates assistance from paid service providers, as well as from family and friends, in order to enable a person to live as independently as possible.

Most institutional care managers are licensed social workers or nurses. However, private care management is still a relatively new field and is unregulated in many states, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute.

Jennifer Zajaick, who lives in Wisconsin, says hiring a care manager to help her parents in Florida was priceless. “This person is helping us put the plan together, get us connected with the resources, help us maneuver through insurance, Medicare, helping us with paperwork, helping us find respite.”

It’s important to find a “good fit,” and one who understands and respects your loved one’s goals, she says. “They're out there and it can take away all the questions of what to do and how to plan.”

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Liz Seegert

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