The key professionals in your senior support network should include skilled and unskilled workers in healthcare, social services, elder law, and insurance. This article introduces some of the important professionals from these fields that you may want to interact with regularly, and it explains their role in supporting seniors.
Knowing the job descriptions of these people will help you and your family navigate your senior support network. You will also be able to leverage the relationships you have with these professionals to help you in your health, financial, recreational, and personal matters. Get to know the professionals in your senior support network and learn how to help them help you!
According to the CDC, 15.3% of seniors age 65 and older had at least one hospital stay in 2017. These seniors were treated by hospital physicians who often had to respond to senior health crises. In the hospital, and especially during an unexpected health emergency, seniors will encounter physicians who they may have never met before. This is because inpatients, or individuals admitted to a hospital room, are assigned any attending physician once they arrive. This physician will almost definitely be someone different from your primary physician.
COVID-19 may have changed the way you will see your doctor, so it’s important to check with the medical office to see whether your in-person appointment is now a virtual “telehealth” visit. Your primary physician is the person you refer to as “my doctor” and whom you see regularly for typical checkups, prescriptions and other clinic visits. They know you on a personal level and are regularly updated on your health. They are also usually intimately aware of your health history, personality and family.
Nurses – RN, LVN, CNA (Home Health Aide)
Nurses take care of patients day in and day out. They attend to your care constantly by monitoring your vitals, responding to your emergencies, providing your nutrition and by fulfilling other needs you have while recovering. In the hospital, seniors should know that nurses are not their treating physicians, but aides who can ensure the comfort of their patients and their patients’ families under physicians’ orders. There are different kinds of nurses who get involved in senior care. RNs, or registered nurses, provide professional, comprehensive nursing care for patients in an acute care environment. They are coordinated, safe, compassionate, and attentive. They will evaluate senior patients to determine required services and plans of care. All RNs have graduated from a nursing program and have a nursing license. LPNs, or licensed professional nurses, are nurses who care particularly for people who are sick, injured, convalescent or disabled. They plan, organize and direct the nursing functions of patients in units like senior care centers, working under direction of registered nurses or physicians. CNAs, also called certified nursing assistants and home health aides, work beneath these two other types of nurses to provide basic care to patients. They assist them in activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, toileting and eating. You will often encounter CNAs working in assisted living or seniors’ homes as caregivers.
RN Case Manager
A RN case manager is a special type of registered nurse tasked with evaluation and implementation of health care plans. RN case managers may come from backgrounds of nursing and social work. They have clinical experience to understand important processes of assessment, planning, and evaluating care for patients who need assistance making educated decisions about continuing their health care or long-term care.
The discharge planner in a hospital is sometimes also a nurse, but with a different set of responsibilities. They can also be a social worker. The discharge planner’s job is to coordinate all resources to get patients out of the hospital as soon as possible. They source from a network of referrals to figure out where a patient should go for continued care after their hospital discharge.
Caregivers are family members or paid helpers who regularly look after the elderly. Though caregivers have much skill, they are categorized as “unskilled workers” who do not require formal education or licensure to perform their duties. (At Amada Senior Care, caregivers have received trainings and certifications, including those on how to minimize risk to senior clients during COVID-19.) Caregivers help seniors perform activities of daily living, or ADLs, to help promote independent living as much as possible. They are companions who watch and guide seniors as they live their daily, regular lives. Oftentimes, caregivers continue the good work done by other senior support professionals who helped seniors through health crises or rehabilitation by making sure they are supervised, healthy and safe.
Good caregivers are hard to find, especially as their workforce dwindles in the troubled senior care industry. However, to find qualified, vetted and dedicated caregivers, give Amada Senior Care a call at 615-933-7494.
Geriatric Care Manager
Geriatric care managers are professionally trained to work with seniors and their families to help seniors reach the highest level of functioning. Your geriatric care manager may have been educated in various fields of human services, such as social work, psychology, nursing, or gerontology. They coordinate services for the elderly and their families and monitor their progress.
Elder lawyers are a unique category of legal specialists who help families with issues pertaining to aging. Most of the time, elder lawyers help families pay for long-term care costs or preserving assets. Elder lawyers will likely advise seniors on how to maintain the value of assets including estates, pensions and investments. They will also help seniors prepare and plan for covering long-term care while keeping their assets intact.
Financial Advisors are available to you through several organizations or even in the form of a trusted friend or family member. However, finding a good financial advisor depends on whether you can trust your candidates to competently counsel you in managing your wealth. Working with a financial advisor develops a very personal relationship because they will be aware of the uses and location of your money.
Insurance of any kind can be a hassle, especially when it works in a carrier’s favor to avoid paying for your claims. Work assertively with the insurance agents whose organizations carry your health, life and long-term care insurance plans. Often, working with insurance agents can be too difficult for senior citizens to manage on their own. It can be even more difficult for their children or other family members to help with. Regarding the different types of insurance you may have, few people are able to navigate this, besides yourself. But when it comes to insurance for long-term care—one of the largest expenses a senior can have—let an Amada Senior Care advocate be part of your senior support network!
Kevin B. Fehr, CSA, CDP, President & CEO, Certified Dementia Practitioner, Amada Senior Care Nashville,. – www.amadanashville.com
America’s trusted resource for caregiving and long-term care insurance claims advocacy.