Geriatric Assessment: A Primer for Families

Often families first contact a geriatric care manager (also known as an Aging Life Care Professional™) when their loved one has a health crisis, a chronic illness, or is showing signs of dementia. Whatever the reason, the family may be stressed and uncertain as to what decisions they need to make. Working with an experienced care manager who provides guidance on all aspects of senior care, as well as hands-on services, is often a huge relief for everyone involved.

The case management process begins with an assessment, which is a comprehensive face-to-face evaluation of the senior’s medical, social, emotional, legal, financial, and safety needs. The care manager looks at the whole picture, such as:

The person’s medical history, the healthcare providers involved in their care, and whether care is coordinated among providers.
The medications the senior takes, and possible interactions.
How well the senior manages activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, preparing meals, etc.
The safety of the home environment and possible need for home modifications, such as grab bars and rails or other adaptive devices, or even a move to a different environment such as assisted living.
The senior’s opportunities to socialize and their social support network.
Legal concerns or questions about advance planning and advance directives.
Financial concerns and/or questions about Medicare/Medicaid, VA, and other benefits and entitlement programs.
Long-term care planning.

Based on the assessment, the care manager prepares a report with specific recommendations and a plan of care. Recommendations may include referrals to various professionals, services, and community resources. The care manager can also assist the family with implementing these recommendations.
For example, the senior may need help with bathing and meal preparation. The care manager can recommend home health care providers and monitor services. The care manager can also coordinate care with other providers, accompany the senior to doctor appointments, assist the family with locating state and federal programs, and address family concerns about long term care needs and what to expect with chronic illnesses and dementia.
Care managers offer a holistic approach designed to help the senior and their family navigate all the challenges that come with aging.