By Dr. Marion Somers, Ph. D., Ask Dr. Marion

QUESTION: My ailing 78 year-old father lives back home in New York and I live in Chicago. There's just no way for me to be there for him as much as I'd like. How can I ensure that he receives more attention in the difficult years ahead? Andrew in Illinois, 48

ANSWER: Whether we chose it or not, caregiving is usually thrust upon us. Decode what your resources are in terms of time, money, family, job, and traveling. You have your own family, social life, and job responsibilities that cannot be ignored. Figure out what you can do and what you can delegate to others. Tap into your family network as well as your elder's friends for help. Often, the best option is to hire a geriatric care manager.

If you're a long-distance caregiver, you might at least consider hiring a geriatric care manager to do a weekly follow-up that would consist of a visit with your elder and a phone call to the aide if one has been hired. Geriatric care managers can often help hire the right aide for your elder too. I have a roster of aides who have worked with my clients over the years, and an agency that trains aides on an ongoing basis will have well-qualified candidates for you to interview.

Here's a list of 20 services that can be provided by a geriatric care manager. Note that each GCM has their own strengths and knowledge base, so the one you hire may have additional training, education, and experience. The decision to hire a geriatric care manger could make a huge difference in your elder's quality of life - and yours.

  1. In-home assessment
  2. Institutional or hospital assessment
  3. Hospital visit in case of emergency
  4. Recommendation and implementation of adapted equipment
  5. Financial information organization
  6. Insurance information organization
  7. Making the home elder safe
  8. Arranging meal service
  9. Hiring cleaners, handyperson, assistants.
  10. Streamlining all medications
  11. Improving appearance
  12. Bringing entertainment into the home
  13. Serving as the communication hub for the family
  14. Understanding of government entitlements and services that are available
  15. Arranging travel to family events, social gatherings
  16. Interview and hire aides and other home-care personnel or medical specialists
  17. Monitor your elder on an ongoing basis
  18. Ability to recommend and arrange a higher level of care as required
  19. Crisis intervention
  20. Improving quality of life

©2006 Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.