Geriatric Care – How to Find a Care Manager

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Geriatric Care:  How to Find a Care Manager




Guest:  Mary Peters – Founder, Care For Life

Host:  Sally Hughes Smith - Artist, Author; The Circle – A Walk with Dementia


Sally Hughes Smith:  Welcome to Age to Age.  I’m Sally Smith.  Let’s talk.  We have with us, today, Mary Peters, a professional geriatric care manager.  Mary, thank you so much for coming to talk with us today.


Mary Peters:  Thank you.


Sally Hughes Smith:  First question, how does one hire a care manager; not a caregiver, but a geriatric care manager?  What is the client looking for?


Mary Peters:  Again, a care manager is a medical or healthcare professional with extensive experience in taking care of the elderly, their families, and solving their problems.


Sally Hughes Smith:  And they assess it, look for the problems, and manage the whole situation; not just a part of it.


Mary Peters:  Everything.  We do everything.  We get their car fixed.  We take their cat to the vet.  We do everything.  If you don’t know how to find a care manager; say you’re in Virginia or Georgia, or somewhere, what you can do is go online to  This Web site is sponsored by the National Association of Professional Care Managers.  All these care managers in all these states and towns are on this Web site. 


Sometimes, we get people who don’t know where to go. So I get the directory, and I get Virginia, Georgia, Florida, whatever, and I will fax those lists to them so they can pick and choose, and look for a caregiver for their parents.  Another situation that you want to be careful about is that there are a lot of people out there that are not certified.  To really be a geriatric care manager, you must pass the national examination which is provided by the National Academy of Certified Care Managers.  You must apply to take the test, and you must have certain credentials in order to take that test.  And then you would be what we call a CMC (Care Manager Certified).


Sally Hughes Smith:  So, you know you’re going to get a really well-educated, well-trained professional with experience, and whether they can help you or send you to someone else, it’s a great place to start.


Mary Peters:  Yeah, and we have fabulous conferences where we learn.  And, a lot of times, we will have joint conferences with the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, and sometimes we combine with the Guardianship Association.  So, the three groups of people always work together very closely.  We can have overlaps of attorneys and geriatric care managers.  And I can have an overlap with a guardian and an elder law attorney.


Sally Hughes Smith:  Do people shop this?  Are there several geriatric care managers, sometimes, within large cities?  Would people meet with them and shop it, and see who they have the good instinctual relationship with, or is this usually something that comes through the recommendation of a doctor, or someone like you, that has a personal touch?  Once they make that call, do people just call that agency and say they’d like to talk to you?


Mary Peters:  Yes, they do.  They might shop a little bit, depending on, maybe, the expertise of the care manager.  They might just specialize in certain things.


Sally Hughes Smith:  I see.


Mary Peters:  Some of them teach in universities and can provide information about gerontology policy, or just things that they teach.  Care managers do all kinds of things.  Some of them just take guardianships.  I guess we have about 35 in South Carolina, and we all work like a network.  If I get a call from Spartanburg, and there’s somebody in Spartanburg; for example, the father has Alzheimer’s and is agitated, I can call that person in Spartanburg and she knows the resources there.


Sally Hughes Smith:  I see.


Mary Peters:  She knows the facilities that are good; and the ones that aren’t, so she can help that person, and that family, get to the right place.


Sally Hughes Smith:  Wonderful networking within the system.


Mary Peters:  Yes.


Sally Hughes Smith:  Now, when you meet with a geriatric care manager that’s going to manage your parents; or your elder person’s, problem, and you come to an agreement about it, do you start out and you’re going to do it for a week, or is it by the month, or by the year?  How does that factor in?  


Mary Peters:  Well, naturally, it depends on the client’s problems; the problems the family has with the client, the functional abilities and chronic nature of the client.  It could go on and on for years just managing them.  It could be just solving one or two problems and getting them to the right subspecialty, or the right doctor, and then monitoring that.


There’s a situation in Hilton Head.  I have a lady in assisted living.  Her dementia has really progressed, and I have a care manager there who’s trying to help her stay in assisted living.  She’s working with the administrator so this lady doesn’t have to go to a nursing home, or move somewhere else.  So, this could go on for a long time, or she could have some kind of a breakdown; or problem, and just go right into another facility.


Sally Hughes Smith:  Well, I know how emotional those transitions can be at that stage.


Mary Peters:  For the family, yes. And see, the family’s not there.  The family’s here, so the need someone there.


Sally Hughes Smith:  That is a tough situation; that transition from some sort of connection to no connection at all.


Mary Peters:  That’s right. 

Sally Hughes Smith:  Well, thank you so much, Mary, for talking to us.


Mary Peters:  Thank you, Sally.


Sally Hughes Smith:  This is so informative.  I’m really fascinated by the resources that you bring to bear.  We’re lucky to have you.  Thank you, again, for coming.  Thanks to our listeners for joining us.  And, of course, we welcome your suggestions and comments on our Web site.  This is Sally Smith, Age to Age, saying good-bye, wishing you courage and joy on your own journey.  We are all connected.


If you enjoy listening to Sally Smith, you can buy her book; The Circle.  It’s the story of how she personally responded to her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease.  It’s a wonderful gift of hope for anyone with a parent with dementia.  Just click on Sally Smith’s name under the health professionals tab on the podcast homepage.  All profits from sale of The Circle support research at the Center on Aging.  Thanks.


If you have any questions about the services or programs offered at the Medical University of South Carolina, or if you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please call MUSC Health Connection at:  (843) 792-1414.

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