Helping Older People Stay at Home
May 8, 2000 -- Geriatric care managers, members of a relatively new
specialty, coordinate services that can help older people stay in their homes
for as long as possible. For families considering such help, though, finding
the right help and weighing the options can be daunting. Here are some
- Members of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
are equipped to assess the needs of the elderly; to arrange for services,
review legal, financial, and medical issues to avoid problems and unnecessary
expenses; to coordinate the various government, private, and community services
available; to offer counseling; and to act as liaison for distant
- Members must have a certain amount of training and experience, but
certification is voluntary; most GCMs have state licenses as social workers,
registered nurses, or psychologists. Their services are used by seniors who
move into eldercare housing as well as those who wish to live independently in
their own homes. The national organization is reachable at www.caremanager.org.
The site lists members of the Association of Professional Geriatric Care
Managers by state or zip code.
If you are about to hire a geriatric care manager, the National Association
of Professional Geriatric Care Managers suggests you ask a prospective
caregiver these questions:
- What are your professional credentials?
- Do you have a state license in your profession?
- How long have you been providing care management services?
- Are you available for emergencies?
- Does your company provide home care services?
- How will you communicate with family members?
- What are your fees? (Be sure to get a written agreement before contracting
- Can you provide me with references?
Paying the Bill
The job of coordinating services can be done by a family member or friend,
but it requires researching what is available, then overseeing the care -- no
small task, particularly if done long-distance. A GCM who evaluates what is
needed, puts it in place, and keeps it running at a price the family can afford
may be well worth the fee, which can be $180 or more for an evaluation visit,
then about $60 an hour for follow-up, monitoring, and communicating with the
Hired homemakers/caregivers, transportation services, house modifications,
and other services add to the bill. The total monthly cost of "aging in
place" varies. An elderly woman who needs only light housekeeping or
companionship for three hours twice a week might spend around $240 a month,
much less than someone who needs help 24 hours a day. That can run $5,000 or
more -- much more if a health aide is needed.
There is some financial aid for senior citizens who meet the Medicare or
Medicaid qualifications. Less expensive home health care is also available
through some state and city social service agencies as well as through the Red
Cross, Visiting Nurses Association, and other concerned groups. State agencies
on aging, hospital discharge offices, and Medicare offices may also have
information about services offered by various private home care agencies.
Where to Go for Help:
Provides information about living at home, modifying a home, home improvement
contractors, staying socially connected, transportation, and help with home
Has extensive links to other sites related to aging in place and independent
Information on modifying homes for the elderly.
Jeanie Puleston Fleming has written for The New York
Times and other publications. She is based in Santa Fe, N.M.