My two-year-old son has a toy drill. He calls it his “grown-up drill” and I’m not allowed to use it because “it’s for grown-ups” and he wants to keep me safe. Like most other things that come out of his mouth, intelligent or not, he got this from me telling him that he couldn’t use my drill one day when we were hanging pictures around the house because, “it’s a grown-up drill and it’s not safe for you to use it.”
It seems like when we’re young, all we can think about is being a grown-up so we can do the things that mom and dad do, and when we’re mom and dad, all we can think about is keeping our children safe and cared for. However, one day, hopefully very far into the future, these roles may reverse and our children are the ones caring for us while we’re the ones wishing we were their age again.
I couldn’t help but think of this juxtaposition as I sat in on the Proactive Aging workshop at the Longevity Forum where Amy Fowler of WNC Geriatric Care Management discussed creating a plan for the day when these roles do reverse. As parents, we never endeavor to become a burden to our children, which is why having a plan for aging in place before the time for care comes is important, as is knowing the resources available to individuals and caregivers to help alleviate some of the burden.
As a certified Care Manager, Amy works with patients and caregivers to navigate decisions about the care for a loved one, which can oftentimes be a complex and emotionally charged process. A Care Manager’s role is to provide professional support, monitor the client, coordinate all care and serves as a patient advocate to ensure best care is being given. In the same way a financial advisor helps coordinate your tax, estate and investment plans, a Care Manager serves as the point person for the care team, communicating between individuals and adjusting care if circumstances change.
Of course, not everyone needs a care manager, but how can you tell if hiring one might help? Amy advises that you ask yourself the following questions. If you are a caregiver or a patient and answer “yes” to any of the following, a care manager may be beneficial to your situation:
- Are you confused or overwhelmed by a new diagnosis and need a “road map”?
- Are you faced with an increasing amount of stress due to your caregiving role?
- Do you need additional support and resources in order to maintain independence?
- Do you need a professional assessment to evaluate and/or help create a care plan?
- Do you have limited social support?
- Are you having trouble obtaining consistent, unbiased and accurate communication from providers?
- Do family members disagree on next steps for care?
The inevitable reality of aging is never fun to think about, but with some proactive planning we can leverage the right “grown-up tools” to lessen the burden on our loved ones and provide piece of mind and quality of life to everyone involved.
Download Amy’s full presentation from the event, “Proactive Aging: Staying Engaged in Your Healthcare Decisions.”