“A person only ages once, so it’s a new experience for the family member who is serving as the primary caregiver for their senior loved one,” says Jessica Leuthauser, Care Coordinator with Bethesda Health Group. “You really don’t know how everything works and what to look for unless you’ve been through the experience before. That’s where I can help.”
Jessica notes that caregivers often realize they are in over their head once a crisis occurs. “Mom gets sick and has to return to the hospital, then she is going to be discharged back home,” she says. “The caregiver may wonder what to do next. They have a lot thrown at them all at once.”
Before that moment arrives, a Care Management professional can make a big difference in the quality of life for the senior adult and the caregiver.
3 Ways a Care Manager Can Help a Family Caregiver
1. Needs Assessment
Care coordinators first conduct a thorough assessment of the senior adult. “We look at the whole situation, including what the primary need is,” says Jessica. “Is it physical, social or cognitive?”
Jessica will find out if he or she has difficulty with daily activities like preparing meals, using the toilet or getting dressed, as well as assess the ability to manage bills, grocery shop, and make medical appointments. She will also delve into medical issues as well as the support system for the senior adult, which usually includes the entire family as well as the primary caregiver.
Care managers and coordinators are versed in the intricacies of the healthcare system. They understand things like long-term care insurance, Veteran’s benefits, entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare, advanced care planning and end-of-life care. They can put together a comprehensive and customized care plan for the senior adult and the family.
2. Navigation and Coordination
It is particularly important for the senior adult and primary caregiver to have a thorough understanding of medical needs, including information and instructions received from physicians or therapists, and how and when to take medications.
“We can step in and coordinate the care with the physician, as well as clear up any misunderstandings,” says Jessica. “That works both ways because it is important that the physician clearly understands the concerns of the senior adult and the family.”
In addition, senior adults often provide information to Care Management professionals that they withhold from their families. “A senior adult might tell me she has been falling a lot, but not tell her daughter because she doesn’t want to worry her,” says Jessica. “I can pass that vital information along to her physician.”
3. Confidence Building
“As a Care Coordinator, my sole purpose is to help the senior adult have the best quality of life possible,” says Jessica. “Because I am a professional with no personal history with the family, I can often move through family conflicts, facilitate family meetings to overcome differences, and keep everyone focused on the end goal.”
Jessica notes that she can be as involved as the senior adult and family desire her to be, and become the resource they count on. “We respect what caregivers do, and we want to provide them with whatever support they need and will accept,” she says.
Possibly the greatest gift a Care Manager or Coordinator can provide for the family is one of restoration: “As we become more involved, caregivers realize they can transition from trying to think of everything they have to do to care for Mom to becoming the daughter, the son, or the spouse they were before.”
If you are the primary caregiver for a senior loved one, and you need a helping hand, contact Bethesda. We provide a wide range of senior care services, such as our unique Care Management program in which we develop a customized senior care plan for your senior loved one.
Contact Bethesda Care Management on our website or by calling 314-963-2200 to learn more.