You've always wanted to stay as independent as possible as you age — doing things for yourself in your own home and making your own decisions without relying on family members or others with your needs. However, now that you're perhaps a few years into retirement, you may be discovering that addressing new needs related to aging is more complicated than you expected.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, professional guidance such as an elder care consultant can help you navigate your golden years.
What Is an Elder Care Consultant?
Elder care consultants may also be called geriatric care consultants, geriatric care managers or elder care managers. Often licensed nurses or social workers, these professionals have special training in geriatrics, which focuses on the health and well-being of seniors.
What Do Elder Care Consultants Do?
Elder care or geriatric care consultants help seniors and their families develop comprehensive plans for long-term care, assess their needs in a wide range of areas and find the right resources. For example, they may help a client with a chronic illness or disability decide whether hiring an in-home caregiver or moving to an assisted living or skilled nursing facility is the best option.
According to the Aging Life Care Association, formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, some of the other services an elder care consultant may offer include:
- Accompanying clients on doctor's visits.
- Helping to navigate the Social Security system and other federal and state programs for older Americans.
- Making referrals to legal and financial professionals, such as accountants, elder law attorneys, estate planners and powers of attorney.
- Assisting with insurance applications and claims.
- Serving as an emergency contact for clients whose family members are located a long distance away.
- Mediating family disagreements about long-term care.
- Advocating for clients' and their families' wishes in health care settings.
Why Should You Use a Geriatric Care Consultant?
There may be times when you face difficult decisions, such as what kind of assistance you need, where you should live or how to plan for your long-term care. These may all be considerations you're facing for the first time — it's natural to feel overwhelmed, even if you take pride in your independence. An outside expert in elder care may be able to step in and relieve your stress by offering you advice and access to resources that make your life easier.
As the Aging Life Care Association notes, elder care consultants can be especially helpful when you and your family live far apart. If you wish, they can check in on you from time to time. You can also designate them as your point of contact so that they can advocate for you in a medical emergency and keep your family informed.
Considerations When Hiring an Elder Care Consultant
The National Institute on Aging recommends asking a few key questions before hiring any prospective elder care or geriatric care consultant:
- Are you licensed in geriatric care management?
- How long have you been providing care management services?
- Are you available for emergencies around the clock?
- Does your company also provide in-home caregiver services?
With their specialized knowledge and experience, elder care consultants can often find resources you didn't know existed to address needs you had no idea you would have. Using the services of one of these professionals could help you enjoy more comfort, contentment and peace of mind in your senior years.