The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home (or the decision to leave your own home and move to a nursing facility, if you are making the decision yourself) can be one of the most difficult and harrowing decisions we ever make. Stories about disreputable facilities where seniors are neglected or abused are all too common, and even if months of searching lead to the discovery of “the perfect” care facility—the shining grain of wheat among the chaff—it’s normal to be apprehensive about exchanging the comfort and independence of home for the unknown in the hands of strangers on the nursing staff. This feeling is magnified if the senior being moved is essentially alone, with the next generation of friends and family scattered across the country.
To ease the transition, and to assure all involved that grandma will be well cared for, many families are opting to hire a Geriatric Care Manager. Traditionally (although Geriatric Care Management is an emerging field, so the term must be used lightly) GCMs have been a resource for seniors and their families; someone on the inside who knows the system and can help navigate, finding the best care and services for each individual situation. But some families are now asking the GCM to continue advising the family even after grandma has settled into the nursing home, to ensure that their loved one continues to receive the best care possible. At the very least the GCM may recommend hiring a professional caregiver to check in with grandma at the nursing home daily or weekly, to observe the quality of care she is receiving and keep family members informed.
If you are interested in learning more, or if you’d like to find a Geriatric Care Manager in your area, go to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers online. And if you are someone who doesn’t need a GCM quite yet, but would like your family to have help navigating the confusing field of nursing care when the time comes, call your attorney and ask to include a mention of it in your estate planning documents or other instructions. Also, let your loved ones know of this option and your desire to use it.
Knowing you are not alone, and having help from someone on the inside, can bring a world of comfort to you and your family.