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Elder Population Growth Means Need for Geriatric Care Managers

May is Geriatric Care Manager Month.

May, which is Geriatric Care Management Month, may be ending, but for many, the challenges of geriatric care management are just beginning.

Professional geriatric care management is the process of planning and coordinating the care of the elderly and disabled to improve their quality of life and maintain their independence for as long as possible, according to the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers website.

Health and psychological care are integrated with the best possible combination of services such as: housing, home care services, socialization programs, financial and legal planning.

Jill Rosner, a registered nurse with 20 years of experience, is the president and founder of Rosner Healthcare Navigation. She provides healthcare consulting, care management and advocacy services to patients and their families.

Rosner said that Geriatric Care Management Month is important because it focuses attention on the fact that people need help navigating the health care management system.

"Research indicates that geriatric care management services may reduce caregiver burden, as well as improved care among aging adults," Rosner said in an email to Patch. "The data reveals that family caregivers feel their overall situation is less stressful after working with a geriatric care manager."

According to Rosner, as the aging population increases, so will the number of family members playing a caregiver role. She said the healthcare system will feel the strain.

"You could easily argue that the biggest challenge is successfully managing the aging of America," Rosner said. "The oldest baby boomers started to turn 65 in January 2011.  Research shows that the number of adults over the age of 65 is expected to double to an astounding 70 million by the year 2040. The sheer size of this group will, without a doubt, place strain on the health care systems and families as they care of aging loved ones."

As a geriatric care manager, Rosner said she assists older people and their families in making health care arrangements to maximize the senior's independence and personal autonomy. She said her goal is to make it possible for aging adults to remain at the least restrictive level of care, often in their own homes.

According to the Association of Geriatric Care Managers website, care managers often create an individualized care plan based on a personal assessment.

"Some of the challenges faced by people navigating the geriatric healthcare system are finding appropriate placement and services within the constraints of health insurance, and there are often long waiting lists at the facilities that are most desirable," Rosner said.

Rosner said that her personalized plans takes into consideration immediate support needs and long term needs. She also coordinates local care services.

A geriatric care manager is needed when an adult is faced with decreased capacity to function as a result of complications of aging, illness, disability, altered cognitive status, and a loss of social/family support systems, Rosner said. 

"When a family member has serious concerns about a frail or disabled adult and needs information and assistance to ensure safety, independence, and an enhancement of quality of life, it is helpful to engage the services of a geriatric care manager," Rosner said.

"This is especially true if the family members live far away. Geriatric care managers are not a replacement for family, but rather as an advocate and a professional who knows how to determine the needs and appropriate placements and services in order to provide peace of mind."

It is estimated that more than 75 percent of all care for elderly is provided by unpaid informal caregivers, 80 percent of whom are women, according to a geriatric care management article. The demand for caregivers is projected to increase as the population ages and more people strive to age in place.

Rosner said that many families find that navigating the geriatric health care system to be very complicated.

"Usually when a family member is navigating the geriatric health care system, they have an aging loved one in crisis," Rosner said.

"They are trying to seek services and information while also juggling a full-time job and the responsibilities of their own families. Add this to the frustrations of understanding the constraints and limitations of health care, and the result is confusion, a feeling of being overwhelmed, and a sense of urgency."

The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, www.caremanager.org, maintains a national directory of professional geriatric care managers around the country.

To learn more about Jill Rosner, visit her website at www.rosnerhealthcarenavigation.com.

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