The America Association of Retired Persons Foundation (AARP) issued a report in 2015 examining caregiving in the US. At the time of the report, 39.8 million people were providing unpaid care to their loved ones. The average amount of time invested in caregiving was 24 hours per week, although it was noted some caregivers are providing 24/7 care. About half of these care providers report that they had no choice in taking on this role. It is among this cohort that the AARP found a higher level of distress. A significant factor in the stress of all caregivers is the coordination of resources, made more difficult when the care recipient has three or more conditions or needs. COVID-19 has produced significant challenges in assuring the health of the care recipient. A skilled and resourceful Care Manager can alleviate the caregiver’s frustration with negotiating through the systems necessary to obtain care for their loved one.
Care Managers can provide an extensive assessment of care needs, which can include the below:
- Medical Conditions. Are there health issues? Is the client prescribed any medications? Are the medications necessary? Are they taking them as prescribed? If not, why not? Are medicines effective? Who are the client’s medical providers?
- COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions seem to be at a higher risk for developing severe complications from a COVID-19 infection. Are they living in an environment that allows social distancing? What is the traffic level in their home? Does your loved one live in a facility? Are the staff following the procedures as recommended by the CDC? Should your loved one be tested for the virus?
- Emotional Well-being. Is the client depressed? Anxious? Are they in need of a psychiatric consultation? How is information about COVID-19 affecting their mental health?
- General Care Needs. Do they need support in the areas of safety, personal hygiene, food purchasing and preparation, house cleaning, and yard maintenance? The CDC recommends that persons vulnerable to COVID-19 complications remain at home and have limited contact with other people. How can you ensure that their care needs are being met?
- Financial Situation. Does the older adult need someone to sort the bills and ensure payment? Is there any financial exploitation occurring? The National Center for the Disaster Fraud Hotline is seeing an increase in scams related to COVID-19, such as antibody testing fraud or unsolicited healthcare. Are they able to manage their funds to be able to pay for their basic needs? Are they receiving all the governmental and insurance benefits for which they are eligible?
- Social Needs. Is the older adult I hear is all lonely and isolated? Are family, friends, or neighbors participating in safe, socially distancing check-ins? Do they have a pet, and is it getting adequate care? Older adults are more likely to feel socially isolated and experience anxiety and depression due to feeling lonely. Without meaningful social interactions and stimulation, in older adults, cognitive functioning can decline. What can we do to help our elderly friends family and neighbors feel connected?
- Their Goals. The most critical area of information gathered during an assessment is from the client directly. What do they want to happen? What brings them joy? What is frightening to them? Who is important to them?
Many times, a plan is created to link the elder to the most appropriate resources to meet their needs. A care manager is savvy about community resources. If a Care Manager doesn’t know the resources, they make it a priority to research options and connect with new resources to review their level of care. A Care Manager never receives a referral fee from a service provider and only uses providers that operate in the best interests of the aging person.
Care Managers act as an advocate. Advocacy efforts can address questions such as:
- Why is the client not receiving the services as agreed?
- Are the staff providing the service trained adequately?
- Is the client being treated with respect and dignity?
- How are the protocols regarding COVID-19 as recommended by the CDC being implemented?
- How can we make the situation better?
Advocacy also includes the willingness to work through the barriers that often occur in obtaining governmental or insurance benefits. A Care Manager knows how to navigate the complicated bureaucracies on behalf of the client.
Often a client’s crisis is the factor that brings a Care Manager into their lives. Addressing the issues that affect the client’s safety and well-being is the top priority. A Care Manager will:
- Ensure that adequate supports are in the home. This may include In-Home Care, architectural or home safety modifications, even food delivery. What services does the older adult need to maintain social distancing as a COVID-19 precaution?
- Locate housing or placements that provide the supports that the client needs to maintain personal safety and minimize the risk of infection of the coronavirus.
- Access psychiatric services.
- Arrange doctors’ appointments.
- Work with the elder and other professionals to stop financial exploitation or physical abuse.
Communication is vital. Care Managers keep family members and health professionals up to date on the client’s well-being and alert everyone to changing needs.
arrangeCARE Care Managers are among the most experienced in the Central Texas area. Our founder, Leah Cohen, was awarded the Social Worker of the Year in 2016 for the Austin, Texas area. Each of our Care Managers brings over 25 years of experience in the role. You and your loved one will benefit from more than 75 years worth of compassionate, knowledgeable services, focused on older adults and persons with disabilities. Give us a call at 512-814-3228. We are here for you!