Care managers help make tough decisions

Care managers help make tough decisions

In 1983, Phyllis Mensh Brostoff co-founded one of the first private professional geriatric care management companies in the country. Today, the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers, of which she's also a founder, boasts about 1,900 members, just a slice of the total industry.

The majority of geriatric care managers are social workers and nurses who help older people and disabled adults coordinate medical care — and can serve as a valuable resource in helping to choose an independent or assisted living facility or even a nursing home. They assess patients' needs, make recommendations, develop plans and monitor care. The field has seen "tremendous growth," Brostoff says.

Brostoff's company, now called Stowell Associates SelectStaff Inc., serves about 100 to 125 clients at any given time in southeastern Wisconsin. Some other companies are in multiple states, including SeniorBridge, LivHome, and ResCare.

SeniorBridge has 28 offices in nine states, including Florida and Texas, and contracts with a national network of geriatric care managers. It employs 113 managers and 1,300 active caregivers who provide in-home care.

The combination of case management and hands-on care is a common one in the industry. "Everything we do we see as care management," says Claudia Fine, the company's executive vice president and chief professional officer. "Our caregivers we see as an extension of care management."

Care managers help get a parent back on track even when kids can't. They assist in wading through insurance paperwork and navigating a complex health system that's especially daunting for seniors, Fine says. As she sees it, they are problem solvers, educators, care coordinators and advocates for clients and families.

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Sometimes circumstances, such as great medical need or limits on what family can do, dictate that a nursing home, assisted living or independent living facility - often all part of the same campus - are better options than in-home elder care.


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