My 3-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 encourage you to create a plan for the day when these roles do reverse.
Certified care managers work 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 serve as a patient advocate to ensure the 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? 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 peace of mind and quality of life to everyone involved.
I encourage you to talk to your primary care physician about your needs. You can also find a certified care manager near you by visiting aginglifecare.org.