Geriatric Care Managers Coordinate Care for Seniors
North America has more seniors than ever before. If
you are interested in helping the elderly, this is good news. With an increase
in the amount of seniors who need help, the demand for geriatric care managers
In this case, the word "manager" doesn't mean being the manager of a company.
Instead, geriatric care managers help people manage their lives. Geriatric
care managers can work as part of a company, or they can set up their own
They don't do the daily tasks that a caregiver might do, such as assisting
with personal care. They can, however, help an elderly person decide which
caregiver to choose.
Essentially, a geriatric care manager helps elderly clients plan and figure
out which services would suit them best. They can act as a middle person between
a client and social workers, caregivers, attorneys or staff at residential
facilities. In a nutshell, they act as an advocate for their clients.
Sometimes a geriatric care manager also acts as a middle person between
younger family members and the elderly person they're working with. They can
help with things like making sure the client pays their bills, or assist with
nutritional issues. They can also deal with crisis management and discuss
legal issues. Clearly, they can do a lot!
With so many responsibilities, education is important. Geriatric care managers
often have a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree is even better. They
study areas related to human services, such as social work, gerontology, nursing,
occupational therapy or psychology.
And it all leads to rewarding work, according to Liz Barlowe. She is the
chief operating officer of a company that offers care services for the elderly.
When asked what she personally enjoys most about her job, she says, "Although
it sounds cliche, the sense of really helping someone.
"We get to know our clients and their families very intimately," she adds.
"Caseloads typically run around 10 - 12 [per geriatric care manager]. We are
able to assist them with many aspects of their lives, including crisis intervention,
health advocacy and overall quality-of-life improvements. We make a huge difference
in the lives of our clients."
Barlowe says an average salary in the U.S. is above $32,000. She adds some
people make $100,000 and over. But geriatric care management is the kind of
career you should go in to because you love helping the elderly, not because
you want a six-figure income.
"It is a great career if you enjoy older adults, family dynamics and problem-solving,"
Phyllis Mensh Brostoff is the president of the National Association of
Geriatric Care Managers. She says that income can vary, depending on many
things. "[It depends] if you work for yourself out of your home, or if you
work for a large organization, which provides all of the materials you need
-- phone, car allowance, computer, training, etc. I think it is not unreasonable
to expect to make between $45,000 and $80,000 a year if you work full time
as a geriatric care manager."
However, partly because this is a relatively new career, it can be difficult
to establish a client base. One reason for this difficulty is that people
aren't aware of everything a geriatric care manager can offer them.
Peter Silin is the principal of a company that deals in geriatric care
management. He says public awareness is one obstacle he faces.
"People don't know what we do," he says. "They don't know the value of
it. Once they get it, then they really get it. But they don't quite see what
someone like me can do for them at a practical level."
This means some of a geriatric care manager's time could be spent finding
clients, instead of helping them.
"There are not very many of us yet, and it can be a struggle to develop
a financially viable business. One needs to be able to do a lot of marketing,
and have a solid business plan. I charge $110 per hour, and supplement my
income with individual and couple counseling too," says Silin.
Silin says it's possible that the demand for geriatric care managers may
grow with an aging population. And while he is realistic about the career,
he still loves it.
"There's a lot of independence in it, assuming you're working on your own,"
says Silin. "You're not stuck in an office. You really know you're making
a difference in people's lives. It's a very people-based profession. The basis
of a successful practice is your ability to form and maintain good relationships
with people. The other thing for me is that I like the inter-professional
collaboration. I work with nurses, physios, occupational therapists, pharmacists
Changing demographics does play a part in the demand for geriatric care
managers. Brostoff says that is one of the reasons demand is currently growing
in some areas.
"People are living longer and can have more health issues as a result,"
she says. "In addition, more people understand that they can get expert advice
when they need it. Today, people live about 10 more years, on average, than
they did 50 years ago."
The more mobile nature of our society also leads some clients to hire a
geriatric care manager.
"Often, families live many miles away from each other, and an adult child
with an aging parent does not live in the same city. Some people do not have
families at all. They never had children, did not marry and need help from
someone who is not a relative," says Brostoff.
The market for geriatric care may be expanding, creating opportunities
for those up for the challenge and willing to spread the word about their
"What I do is rewarding, but it's a struggle, that's the thing," concludes
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
The national association for geriatric care managers
Florida Geriatric Care Managers Association
An example of a state's association for geriatric care managers
A group that offers care to the elderly
Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work
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