Geriatric Care Managers Advocate for Seniors — and Their Caregivers

With changing times comes a change in the way we care for our elders. In the past, extended families often shared the job of tending to their senior loved ones. These days, families may live farther apart, and the responsibility for care can fall on one overwhelmed family member. The good news is that geriatric care managers can help. These professionals, sometimes called “aging life care managers,” are usually licensed and trained in senior care. They act as private advocates and guides for family members who want to ensure their loved one is in the best hands, and they generally serve clients and families whose incomes are too high to qualify for publicly financed services. "Caring for a senior can often be an overwhelming process,” says Cathryn A. Devons, assistant clinical professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “Geriatric care managers seek to make the process easier by serving as an advocate or counselor — taking the pressure off of family members who often have other commitments, such as parenting and workplace responsibilities.” The number of caregivers who need help will continue to increase. People 65 and older now make up about 16 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Population Reference Bureau. By 2060, that share is expected to rise to 23 percent, and the number of seniors is projected to nearly double to 95 million, in part because people are living longer. ...Continue Reading

What Is a Geriatric Care Manager?

A geriatric care manager, usually a licensed nurse or social worker who specializes in geriatrics, is a sort of "professional relative" who can help you and your family to identify needs and find ways to meet your needs. These specially trained professionals can help find resources to make your daily life easier. They will work with you to form a long-term care plan and find the services you need. Geriatric care managers can be especially helpful when family members live far apart. If asked, they will check in with you from time to time to make sure your needs haven't changed. ...Continue Reading

Angel’s Baby Shower

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021, was a special day for the Starlight family. Angel, our care manager who has taken an extended maternity leave, returned for a baby shower in her honor. Angel’s husband, James, was the celebrated father-to-be.  Vanessa, our staffing coordinator, doubled as event planner for a couple of weeks. Vanessa coordinated office decorations, food and beverages, and sent out invitations to all caregivers. The rest of the office staff joined in the effort to bring it all together. Several caregivers joined us for an afternoon of celebration. One caregiver brought her client to the party. Food included special contributions from the Starlight office staff. Smiles and laughter were seen constantly throughout the day. When the festivities were over, the couple loaded their shower gifts in the office wagon and packed them in their car. We shared a final laugh as James made a return trip, and brought an overloaded wagon of diapers to the car. The entire Starlight family was left with a warm glow for the rest of the week. ...Continue Reading

Rest in Peace Evelyn Alderman

On June 1, 2021, the Starlight family lost one of its own. Evelyn Alderman, our caregiver of the month this past April, passed away rather suddenly following surgery. Evelyn was only 54 years old. Before she left this world, Evelyn requested her selection as Caregiver of the Month at Starlight to be noted in her obituary. ...Continue Reading

Curing Alzheimer’s in America

Imagine waking up one morning and not knowing whether you’re in your own home, let alone your hometown. The faces around you are unfamiliar, and you don’t know who to ask for help—or what to say. This is a daily reality for more than 5.7 million Americans. These people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a debilitating, ultimately fatal chronic condition that destroys nerve cells in the brain. Currently, there is no cure. ...Continue Reading

Why It’s Okay to Fire Your Doctor

Finding a primary care doctor who makes you feel heard, responds to your questions and understands your concerns is not easy. And if you’re lucky enough to find a physician who suits your needs, it’s not always guaranteed that the doctor will do so as long as you need. When a doctor stops meeting your standards of care, the conundrum becomes: Do I wait it out, avoid hard feelings and give it a chance, potentially wasting time, money and effort? Or do I move on and see if I can find better care from another doctor? Fire Your Doctor? Many Do Former health care journalist Bob Brody grappled with this challenge in a recent New York Times piece. Brody wrote that his trusted doctor of more than 20 years became less thorough in his questioning and examinations and began looking at his computer screen far more than Brody during appointments. Brody said the physician gave increasingly more referrals out to other doctors, more dense medical articles for him to r ead and more prescriptions without evidence showing the need. Brody was left feeling unheard, and he’s not alone. In his article, he pointed to a 2001 Journal of Family Practice study showing that one-fifth of patients left their ...Continue Reading

The Biggest Estate Planning Mistake People Make

If you are like most people, when you hear the words “estate planning,” you probably think of writing a will, to explain who will get what you own when you die. The problem is, a will has little or nothing to do with you. It’s all about planning for someone else. In reality, estate planning is about much more than writing a will; it’s also about taking care of you while you are alive, should you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. What follows is a rundown of the key disability documents to complete as part of your estate planning, even before writing a will. Although their names vary from state-to-state, the following are essential “me first” documents. An Advanced Health Care Directive, sometimes called a Medical Power of Attorney  This document lets you choose who will make decisions about your health care if you become too ill or injured to make them yourself. This person is referred to as your health care agent. A Living Will  A living will spells out the kinds of medical care and treatment you do and don’t want to receive if you are close to death and there is no hope of your recovery. Your health care agent will have the power to ...Continue Reading

10 scary scams targeting seniors and how to avoid them

Crimes against the elderly continue to skyrocket each year, as criminals continue to find more ways to carry out both new and old scams. In fact, seniors lose billions of dollars a year to home repair scams, investment scams, IRS scams and various other cons targeting older people. Elderly people are targets for criminals for a variety reasons, and as their family members and friends, it’s our job to help protect them from potential scams. So in order to help you protect your loved ones, here’s what you need to know about some of the most common types of scams targeting seniors and how to avoid them. Who criminals are targeting Con artists are particularly fond of elderly widows. The scam is to find those who may be lonely or infirm, and slowly shower them with attention and small gifts in order to gain their confidence. How you can help protect older people in your life If you have elderly friends or relatives, you need to stay involved in their lives. Be nosy! Visit them. To someone who is alone a lot, just your presence brings them joy. It may seem dull at times, but never ...Continue Reading

The Potentially Deadly Condition That May Follow a Hospital Stay

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) might be the most serious condition you’ve never heard of. The disease starts with a blood clot, or thrombosis, that forms in a deep vein in the leg (or, less frequently, the arm). This clot is known as deep vein thrombosis. If the clot breaks off, travels through the bloodstream and lodges in a lung, it’s called a pulmonary embolism and in about a quarter of such cases causes sudden death. Together, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are known as VTE, a dangerous and deadly combination that can strike anyone, but is particularly problematic for those over 60 who have experienced hospital stays and/or surgeries. Although some VTE cases are unprovoked (caused by genetic mutations that affect clotting factors in the blood or family history), many others are preventable. That’s according to Jack Ansell, an internationally recognized expert in the field of hematology and thrombosis and a member of the scientific board of the National Blood Clot Alliance. Since about two-thirds of blood clots occur as a result of hospitalization or after hospitalization, Ansell says that many cases of VTE can be prevented if patients are proactive. “When you enter the ...Continue Reading

Caregiver Burnout: What It Means and How to Cope

Know the signs that you need a break — for your health and your loved one's By Gina Roberts-Grey (This article appeared previously on Caring.com.) Caregiving can bring many positives into your life — but it can also take a toll, both physically and emotionally. Without finding a balance between caring for your loved one and maintaining your own mental, physical and emotional health, you’re at risk of developing what’s known as caregiver burnout. “Feeling exhausted, unmotivated, constantly frustrated and forgetful, as well as having problems at work or with relationships, are all signs of caregiver burnout,” says Kimberly Hershenson, a New York-based therapist specializing in anxiety and depression. Caregiver burnout can not only interfere with your ability to care for your loved one, it’s a leading contributor to placement of that person in a nursing home. It’s also risky to your own health, raising the risk of chronic depression, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and premature death. “It is important to have life balance between caring for loved ones and caring for yourself,” says Hershenson. It helps to know the signs that you need a break, and what to do ...Continue Reading

5 Myths About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

By Helen Blair Simpson, M.D.July 6, 2016 When people learn that I am a psychiatrist who has spent the last 20 years studying obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at Columbia University Medical Center, I get various reactions. They include jokes (“Hey, we could really use you in my family”) and minimization (“We all have some OCD, right?”) that unwittingly trivialize the suffering of my patients. These patients include: the mother tortured by intrusive thoughts about hurting her children; the grown son who calls his elderly mother weekly but has not visited her in years because he has intrusive sexual and violent images about her; the lawyer whose “just right” obsessions made her unable to meet deadlines and the teacher with such severe contamination fears that he washes with bleach each night. People with OCD often avoid situations that trigger their obsessions or compulsions. In the last few decades, we’ve learned a lot about OCD. It’s time to dispense with some common myths. (Some of the details of examples below have been changed to protect patients’ privacy.) Here are five big ones: Myth No. 1: OCD is rare. Two of every 100 Americans will suffer from OCD ...Continue Reading

Old and Young Want to Get to Know Each Other Better

Old and Young Want to Get to Know Each Other Better A new report cites huge benefits from intergenerational programs By Sally Abrahms Aging and Caregiving Writer May 16, 2017 In a national report released recently, two out of three adults surveyed said they want to spend time with people who aren’t their age, while three in four wish there were more opportunities to get to know different age groups. Why, then, aren’t there more intergenerational programs and initiatives? I Need You, You Need Me: The Young, The Old, And What We Can Achieve Together, published by the nonprofits Generations United and The Eisner Foundation, lays out the case for more mixing of the generations, and suggests ways to achieve it. The online Harris Poll survey of 2,171 U.S. adults ages 18+ conducted in February 2017 for this report, points to few opportunities for interaction. According to the report, in the U.S., “intergenerational friendships are the exception rather than the rule: for the most part, age segregation prevails.” Separation Between the Generations Begins Early Consider this: Students go to school with peers, older adults often live in retirement communities or assisted living, college students hang out together in dorms and classes, ...Continue Reading

Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff

Advice for boomers desperate to unload family heirlooms By Richard Eisenberg Money & Work Editor February 9, 2017 After my father died at 94 in September, leaving my sister and me to empty his one-bedroom, independent living New Jersey apartment, we learned the hard truth that others in their 50s and 60s need to know: Nobody wants the prized possessions of your parents — not even you or your kids. Admittedly, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s not far off, due to changing tastes and homes. I’ll explain why, and what you can do as a result, shortly. The Stuff of Nightmares So please forgive the morbidity, but if you’re lucky enough to still have one or more parents or stepparents alive, it would be wise to start figuring out what you’ll do with their furniture, china, crystal, flatware, jewelry, artwork and tchotchkes when the mournful time comes. (I wish I had. My sister and I, forced to act quickly to avoid owing an extra months’ rent on dad’s apartment, hired a hauler to cart away nearly everything we didn’t want or wouldn’t be donating, some of which he said he’d give to charity.) Many boomers and Gen X’ers charged with disposing the family heirlooms, it ...Continue Reading

Why Not to Leave Too Much to Your Grown Kids

(This provocative article is adapted from the new book, Entitlemania, by Richard Watts.) Somewhere in our DNA as parents, we believe it is an act of love, generosity, or for some, contrition, to leave our children an inheritance after we die. And the more money we leave, we think, the better! But despite the wisdom and warnings of historical philosophy, religious texts and psychology, we refuse to heed the whispers and acquiesce to our irrefutable belief that our children will both benefit from, and appreciate our gift. Beware . . .  For everything you give your child, you take something away. Perhaps we need to change the question we ask ourselves from 'How much is too much?' to 'How little is too little?' Yet parents often adjust their retirement budget for food, shelter, travel and recreation so they can “leave a little something” to their children. And many, modestly surviving on Social Security, even feel a twinge of guilt if they exit the planet saddling their children with funeral and burial expenses. How Inheritances Can Cause Permanent Damage to Families How would you react if I told you that your children would never speak to each other again because you left your three kids your ...Continue Reading

Alzheimer’s Caregivers: Isolated and Needing Help

A new study reveals most caregivers don't get enough support from siblings June 1, 2017 Fifteen million Americans care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and two-thirds of them feel isolated or alone in that difficult endeavor. That’s one finding of a survey released today by the Alzheimer’s Association, which also revealed that 84 percent of the caregivers would like more support in their efforts. “It’s a problem that’s only going to get worse,” said Ruth Drew, director of family and information services for the Alzheimer’s Association, in a statement. “As life expectancies get longer and the number of older Americans grows rapidly, so too will the number of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and family members affected.” The survey was conducted to highlight Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in June. The Alzheimer’s Association commissioned the online survey of about 1,500 adults, which was conducted in April. Those responding fell into one of three groups: 250 were currently caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, 252 had previously done so and 1,000 had never given care. Bringing Families Closer — Or Tearing Them Apart More than a third of respondents said caregiving for a loved one made their sibling relationships stronger. Bonding ...Continue Reading