Caring for an elderly parent is emotionally and mentally draining. There are diagnoses to decipher, housing issues to consider, health aides to vet and a raft of legal documents to complete. It can seem overwhelming, even when families are in complete agreement on how to care for an elderly relative. And often they are not.Last week, my colleague Walecia Konrad offered advice on how to find “respite care” — someone to temporarily help you tend to an elderly parent or loved one so you can have some time for your own life. This week, I am writing about what to do when you feel the situation calls for the equivalent of a case worker.
Happily, such case workers can be found. They are called geriatric care managers.
Yes, you must pay these professionals out of your own pocket. Regular insurance does not cover them, although some long-term care policies do. But a good care manager can buy you time and some peace of mind so you can concentrate on your job, your family and your own health.
A typical case might be Howie Gray and his two brothers. For years, they had cared very well for their widowed mother, Delle Gray. Ms. Gray lived alone in a ground-floor condominium in Brookline, Mass., two streets away from her son Stephen. But after Ms. Gray passed out in the bathroom one night, the sons suspected that their mother, then 90, needed more help.
“We wanted her quality of life to be as good as it could be,” Howie Gray said.
But the men, busy with their own lives, did not have the time or expertise to figure out what was missing. So about five years ago, they hired Audrey Zabin, a care manager in Boston.