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Here are a few definitions for some of the KEY people you’ll need to get to know in your area:
GERIATRICIANS: A geriatrician is an MD who specializes in working with people 65+.
-They take more time with older adults who often have multiple conditions and are able to do assessments on mental acuity.
-Their philosophy is different than the typical doctor who wants to ‘cure’.
-Geriatricians work at maintaining the best quality of life possible with whatever conditions currently exist.
-Geriatricians work in private practice as well as hospital settings. Check with your area agency on aging, family practitioner or hospital for a recommendation.
SOCIAL WORKERS: Social workers are often used by home care agencies, senior housing institutions and hospitals.
-They are trained to work in the best interest of older adults while they are present in their facilities.
-Social Workers try to make sure supports are in place so that the older adult can be independent when returning home.
-Sometimes, they work as counselors or geriatric care managers as well.
NURSES: Nurses work in hospitals, home care agencies, private duty nursing companies, hospice and as geriatric care managers.
-They add a medical perspective to your loved one’s situation and are able to fill and monitor medications; check vital signs, and assist with more acute conditions.
HOSPICE: Hospice professionals include nurses, social workers, chaplains, and CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants). They work with patients who have an estimated 6 months to live and provide comfort care as well as emotional support to the family.
-You can find a Hospice company in your local Older Adult Resource Guide or by asking for a reference from your physician or hospital social worker.
In Home Service Agencies: Here is about what you can expect from in-home services agencies.
Some offer companion services. These are minimally trained workers who will prepare meals, do light housekeeping and act as companions to a senior who should not live alone anymore.
In-home aides can be CNAs or Medical Technicians. They can take blood pressure, check sugar levels and monitor medications.
Live-in companions stay in the home and although available 24/7, they do sleep at night.
Private Duty Nurses can fill, refill and administer medications. Bath aides may come in just to bathe the patient.
OT & PTs are available through some in-home agencies to assist older adults who need rehabilitation.
Some agencies also offer transportation services for a fee.
GERIATRIC CARE MANAGERS: Geriatric Care Managers work with the patient and advocate for the person in their home, facility or hospital. They develop a Care Plan to maintain the elder’s independence and quality of life.
-As conditions change, the Care Plan changes.
-Care Managers are trained to work in cooperation with families and other professionals to provide supports so that they maintain the independence of the aging adult. You can find a geriatric care manager by going to www.caremanager.org.
So to summarize, geriatricians can help adults 65+ to adjust to changing conditions; nurses assist with higher level medical conditions in the home or a facility; social workers help older adults to plan for discharge supports when they have been in a facility; geriatric care managers advocate for the person planning for changing conditions wherever they may be living. Hospice adds another level of support when a person has 6 months or less to live. They help both patient and family to cope with what is happening. In-home service agencies provide aides and other professionals in the home.