Care managers help people 65 and older and those with disabilities prepare for times of crisis, such as a fall, a hospital stay, or in this case, a storm, but they can also help you stay organized while navigating your way through the aging and retirement process.
Care Managers at Senior Crossroads, like many Floridians, spent much of last week preparing for the looming threat of Hurricane Dorian. But they weren’t just getting themselves ready — their primary focus was making sure that their clients, mostly adults age 65 and older who could use a helping hand or those with disabilities, were ready for the impending storm. But it shouldn’t take a natural disaster for you to consider hiring an Aging Life Care Professional or Geriatric Care Manager.
“A lot of people might not necessarily understand what we do as care managers, but a lot of our job is just making sure that people are prepared for whatever happens, whether that’s a storm or a fall or a hospital visit. Most emergencies happen when you least expect them,” said Steven Bennet-Martin of Senior Crossroads of Florida. “This week, it’s doing things like making sure that people have medication in case they can’t get to the pharmacy for a few days and just making sure we use our knowledge and experience to ensure that they are hurricane-ready and prepared before the storm hits. But in this field, you’re constantly preparing clients for the unexpected emergency on a Friday at 6 p.m.”
Navigating the aging process can be a difficult challenge for anyone, but it can become a herculean task for those who become physically or cognitively compromised. Care managers, who offer a variety of services in their quest to help their clients stay on top of things, might be able to help you age in the right place for you.
“We start by doing an assessment and developing a care plan that meets our clients’ individual needs, because everybody is different and we’re all at different stages of our life,” said Denise Drabik, owner of Senior Crossroads of Florida. “Our philosophy is for them to be in the least restrictive environment for as long as possible while giving them and their family peace of mind.”
For care managers, this can mean helping them keep on top of their medication, making sure that their doctors are all in communication and maybe coordinating some extra help through a home health agency. But it also means being an advocate for them in times of need.
Barbara Levison, president of the Florida chapter of the Aging Life Care Association, of which Senior Crossroads is a member, said that times of crisis like hospital stays are often when she will receive new clients.
“A lot of times, it’s either the mother is living at home by herself and a family member visits and they start noticing some issues like memory problems and realize they might need some help, or the family is out of town and there’s a fall and the client winds up in the hospital and needs someone there to speak directly to the nurses and the doctors and coordinate things with family members,” said Levison.
Having a care manager by your side in this situation could help save you from being discharged early or ensure that you get the rehab that you need.
But not waiting for the storm or the emergency is still the ideal situation, according to both Levison and Drabik. Most care managers, while being privately paid, take cases on an hourly basis and recommend starting a case file before you really need their services so that they are familiar with your baseline needs ahead of time and can prepare for the future.
“There’s a lot of benefits to planning so that we can make sure we’re giving you the best possible care,” said Bennet-Martin.
This story comes from Aspirations Journalism, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota Herald-Tribune to inform, inspire, and engage the community to take action on issues related to Age-Friendly Sarasota, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, National Council on Aging and the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition.