Caring for your loved ones as they age and need your assistance can be both a joy and a challenge. Options for Elder Care — a care management service that assists older adults and their families plan, manage and coordinate difficult, age-related situations — is owned and operated by Barbara Kolonay, who is a Registered Nurse, a Certified Case Manager and a Life Care Manager recognized by the Aging Life Care Association1.
To learn more about how a Life Care Manager can help you and your family, please read the brief introduction below, explore Our Services, or see the Frequently Asked Questions section of our website. You can also visit our Blog, where we'll be posting additional information, reflections and conversations.
• Why Choose a Life Care Manager?
Also known as Elder, Aging, Personal, or Geriatric Care Managers, Life Care Managers represents a growing trend to help family caregivers provide care for loved ones living close by or needing long-distance care. Care managers are also particularly useful in helping caregivers at home2 find the right services (a partial list below) and cope with their burden.
Even if you're familiar with the wide range of senior services that are available, you may have difficulty determining what's right for you and your elder at this particular time. Everyone is unique, and has different needs. This is where a Life Care Manager can prove invaluable.
A Life Care Manager (LCM) is a professional with specialized knowledge and expertise in senior care issues. Ideally, an LCM holds an advanced degree in gerontology, social work, psychology, nursing, or a related health and human services field. Sometimes called case managers, elder care managers, service coordinators or care coordinators, LCMs are individuals who evaluate your situation, identify solutions, and work with you to design a plan for maximizing your elder's independence and well being.
Life Care Managers facilitate the care selection process for family members who live at a distance from their elderly relatives, as well as for those who live nearby but do not know how to tap into the appropriate local services. You can hire a care manager for a single, specific task, such as helping you find a daily caregiver, or to oversee the entire caregiving process. Options for Elder Care also can provide connection with a range of other professionals and service providers who are part of the local elder care network.
Life care management usually involves an in-depth assessment, developing a care plan, arranging for services, and following up or monitoring care. With our experience and familiarity with community resources, Options for Elder Care can also suggest potential alternatives you might not have considered. We make sure your loved one receives the best possible personalized care and all the benefits to which they are entitled.
• Below is a partial list of what a Life Care Manager might do:
(please also see the "Our Services" section of our website for more detailed information on these and other eldercare services and options available to you and your family)
Assess the level and type of care needed and develop a care plan
Take steps to start the care plan and keep it functioning
Make sure care is received in a safe and disability friendly environment
Become an advocate for both the care recipient and the family caregivers
Manage care for a loved one for out-of-town families
Locate and assist families in supervising home support services such as light housekeeping, grocery shopping, transportation, meal preparation, companionship or live-in care
Conduct ongoing assessments to monitor and implement changes in care
Advise and assist with creating a living will or health care directive (advance directives)
Discuss and explain options for end of life and funeral services
Arrange for services of legal and financial advisors
Establish a liaison with hospice care for those who are terminally ill and wish to die at home
Provide assistance with placement in assisted living facilities, retirement communities or nursing homes
Monitor the care of a family member in a nursing home or in assisted living
Assist with the monitoring of medications
Provide nursing evaluations and explain and sort out medical conditions, medications and options for treatment
Coordinate medical appointments and medical information
Provide for physical and occupational therapy
Discuss safety and autonomy issues
Assess financial options, including a thorough analysis of the health insurance plan (Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits, private insurance) to assure the most cost effective outcome
Deal with a complex situation such as a psychiatric, cognitive, health, legal, or social issue
Resolve family conflicts and other family issues relating to long term care and provide mediation if needed
Develop long range plans for older loved ones not now needing care
In addition to helping seniors and their families directly, Life Care Managers can act as your informed connection with a range of other professionals who are part of your elder care network, including any of the following service providers:
Attorneys or trust officers. A care manager can serve as both elder advocate and intermediary with financial and legal advisors. The LCM is often a good source of referrals if a family needs services from these professionals.
Physicians. The LCM is an ideal liaison between doctors and other health professionals, and the elder patient and family members.
Social workers. It is useful for hospital and nursing home social workers and discharge planners to know that their senior patient will have someone to coordinate their care and assist them on a long-term basis.
Home care companies. The LCM will know local agencies and be able to explain options, costs, and oversight of home care workers. The care manager can also assist in dealing with patients' social issues, help link to other community resources, and suggest possible placement options.
Residential facilities. The LCM can help identify types of care facilities and assist you in selecting an appropriate one for your situation. The LCM may also be able to streamline the transition into or out of a senior community.
If you need assistance with caring for an elderly loved one, are new to elder care or uncomfortable with elder care decision-making, are faced with having to make a sudden decision or major change such as a health crisis or change of residence, or simply want some advice about any aspect of elder care, please don't hesitate to contact us at any time.
Barbara Kolonay, RN, BSN, MHRM, CCM
Options for Elder Care
Allison Park, Pennsylvania
• About the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA)
ALCA is a nonprofit professional organization representing the field of Aging Life Care™ (also known as geriatric care management). ALCA promotes high standards of practice, professional ethics, and continuing education for its members. Membership is open only to individuals qualified by education and experience. Since its formation in 1985, ALCA has become the recognized and respected lead organization of practitioners in this field. Primarily a national organization ALCA also has members in Canada and other countries. For more information please visit www.aginglifecare.org or call (520) 881-8008.
• Family Hospice and Palliative Care
As one of the Hospice services that Options for Elder Care recommends, Family Hospice and Palliative Care exists to enhance the quality of life for terminally ill patients, their families, and caregivers by providing quality palliative and supportive care, primarily in the home. Their service area includes Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Crawford County, Fayette County, Greene County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Venango County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County in Western Pennsylvania and Columbiana County, Mahoning County, and Trumbull County in Ohio.
• Harris Survey on End-of-Life Care
According to a Harris Survey on End-of-Life Care conducted in 2002, the vast majority of Americans (86%) believe that people with terminal illness would most like to receive end-of-life care at home. Yet nearly 70% of deaths in America today occur in facilities, primarily in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Given the overwhelming desire of Americans to die at home, what are the reasons for the gap between what Americans prefer and what is actually taking place? One of the factors is our trepidation for caring for a severely ill person at home.
Caring for a seriously ill loved one at home can be intimidating and overwhelming. Most of us have no experience or training in caring for an ill person at home. Adding to our sense of overwhelming responsibility is the rapid advance of technology, which has made the array of home-based medical interventions bewildering.
There is little doubt that, when families commit to caring for a seriously ill loved one at home, they face many challenges. These families also benefit from additional support, especially the comprehensive, holistic support offered by hospice. See the American Hospice Foundation's article, Providing Care at Home: Can I Do It?, for more information.