A There are many ways that care managers can help older adults and people with disabilities maintain independence.
One example is hospital-to-home planning, to help ensure a safe discharge after a hospital stay. Often the older adult’s condition has deteriorated and they are going to need a lot of assistance at first. In many of those cases, the older adult needs an advocate— somebody who can manage all of the in-home services, medical appointments and assist the older adult with necessary changes in care.
Care managers can also help people who want to live independently but need some assistance. Coordinating with medical providers to ensure that the person’s needs can effectively be met at home is often key here. Help with scheduling and attending medical appointments is a common need, but care managers can also assist with accessing house repairs, pet care, and social activities.
The needs assessment is a central part of care management, because it helps provide a roadmap for the care plan. Ideally the needs assessment is a collaborative process that starts by developing a rapport with the person receiving care, to understand their needs from their perspective.
Discussions with family and the care manager’s professional opinion are also important components, and the care manager often helps families navigate potentially difficult discussions by providing an outside perspective.
Lisa Waxman is an LICSW and Aging Life Care Manager with Community Living Options (CLO), which provides care management services across much of the Greater Boston Area. CLO is a program at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, a non-profit elder services agency dedicated to supporting the independence and well-being of older adults. For more information about CLO, call 617-756-1026