What does a care manager do and why would you want to hire one? If you’re an adult child of an aging parent, chances are you’ve wondered what the future will bring and what the options are. What will happen if Mom or Dad’s health problems get worse? Should we be looking into assisted living? How will we know when and where to find home care services?

For many families, it’s challenging to navigate the health care system for an aging adult. Often there are important decisions that have to be made about finances, medical care, and housing, and it’s even more stressful if the senior has a health care crisis. A private care manager, a professional with a background in social work, nursing, gerontology or other human services field, can guide families through every step of this journey. Care managers offer expert guidance and recommendations on state and federal resources and entitlement programs, home care services and long-term care, and referrals to legal and financial professionals. They step in to coordinate care with the senior’s medical team, and they can be the family’s eyes and ears when family members can’t be present.

It all starts with a thorough assessment of the person’s mental and physical health, living situation, lifestyle, and preferences. As a care manager with a background in social work, I’ll meet with my client in his/her home, conduct a comprehensive assessment, and develop a plan with recommendations for services. For example, some people want to live as independently as possible in their own homes, but doing so safely might require home modifications and/or in-home services to help with dressing, bathing, or meal preparation. I’m very familiar with community resources and can offer suggestions on providers to contact. You don’t have to do the legwork yourself.

I can monitor services once they’re in place, and give updates to the family as needed. I’ll ensure that my client is taking medications appropriately and getting the right level of care. I often accompany the senior to doctors’ appointments to make sure everyone on the medical team is on the same page too. If the senior has dementia or another chronic illness, I help the family prepare for the future and make decisions that are in everyone’s best interest. My goal is to relieve the stress that caregivers so often feel when they don’t know where to turn.

Aging in America isn’t always easy. A care manager can make the journey smoother and give everyone greater peace of mind.