What Is a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM)?

In this article...
  • Family members can turn to a geriatric care manager (GCM) to help a loved one manage the activities of daily living and coordinate health care. Our review helps you understand when it might be a good time to turn to a geriatric care manager and how they can help provide the care you and your loved ones need.

There may come a time when you or a loved one no longer can fully manage the normal activities of daily living. Often, the adult children of older parents step in to help as best they can. But if that becomes too challenging because of more complicated health needs or because they live too far away, it may be time to consider hiring a geriatric care manager.  

The National Institute on Aging says that a geriatric care manager (GCM) is usually a licensed nurse or social worker who specializes in geriatrics. The NIA calls a GCM “a sort of ‘professional relative’ who can help you and your family to identify needs and find ways to meet your needs.” 

A GCM, it continues, is a specially trained professional “who can help find resources to make your daily life easier. 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.”

A GCM can also work with the senior or family members to create a long-term care plan and find the services that are needed.

What Do Geriatric Care Managers Do?

 The NIA says that geriatric care managers can do any or all of the following:

  • Discuss difficult topics and complex issues
  • Make home visits and suggest needed services
  • Address emotional concerns
  • Make short- and long-term plans
  • Evaluate in-home care needs
  • Select care personnel
  • Coordinate medical services
  • Evaluate other living arrangements
  • Provide caregiver stress relief

A geriatric care manager is especially useful when an elderly person has more complicated health concerns. They are trained to understand medical terminology, jargon and the complexities of the health care system.

Because of that training, a GCM can accompany seniors to their doctors’ appointments and help them understand their condition and care plan. They can also relay that information back to family members. And, because they are hired consultants, they are better able to stay neutral and professional when differences among family members arise.

When to Hire a Geriatric Care Manager

When should you think about hiring a geriatric care manager? Generally, when you notice that you or your loved one is struggling with the activities of daily living (ADL). The National Institutes of Health define these as either basic or instrumental ADLs.

Basic ADLs:

  • Ambulating: The extent of an individual’s ability to move from one position to another and walk independently

  • Feeding: The ability of a person to feed oneself

  • Dressing: The ability to select appropriate clothes and to put the clothes on

  • Personal hygiene: The ability to bathe and groom oneself and to maintaining dental hygiene, nail and hair care

  • Continence: The ability to control bladder and bowel function

  • Toileting: The ability to get to and from the toilet, using it appropriately, and cleaning oneself

Instrumental ADLs:

  • Transportation and shopping: The ability to procure groceries and attend events

  • Managing transportation: By driving or by organizing other means of transport

  • Managing finances: The ability to pay bills and manage financial assets

  • Shopping and meal preparation: Everything required to get a meal on the table. It also covers shopping for clothing and other items required for daily life

  • Housecleaning and home maintenance: Cleaning kitchens after eating, maintaining living areas reasonably clean and tidy and keeping up with home maintenance

  • Managing communication with others: The ability to manage telephone and mail

  • Managing medications: the ability to obtain medications and taking them as directed

How Much Does a Geriatric Care Manager Cost?

Costs vary by location and the services required from the GCM.

AARP reports that, according to a 2017 survey, an initial assessment can range from about $300 in more rural areas to more than $800 in large urban areas. Hourly rates range from $100 to $200. A GCM may also charge for long-distance calls, mileage and travel time.

Will Medicare Pay for a GCM?

No, Medicare does not typically pay for a geriatric care manager.

Some employee assistance programs (EAPs) have started covering some care management fees so that employees can stay focused on their work and spend less time caring for their loved one.

A long-term care insurance policy may cover some of the costs of care coordination.

How to Find a GCM

To find a care manager in your location, you can contact:

The NIA also says that some support groups for aging-related diseases, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, may be able to locate geriatric care managers in your region. To find a support group, ask your loved one’s caregivers.

Another way to find a GCM is to ask friends and neighbors with elderly relatives if they have any recommendations.

What to Ask a GCM Candidate

When looking for a GCM, the NIA suggests you ask the candidate the following questions:

  • Are you licensed as geriatric care manager?
  • How long have you been working as a GCM?
  • Are you available 24/7 in case of emergencies?
  • Does your company provide home care services if needed?
  • How will you stay in contact with me?
  • What are your fees, and will you provide that information in writing?
  • Do you have references?
About the Author

David Levine is an award-winning writer and editor whose work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated, American Heritage, U.S. News & World Report and others.

David has covered health, health insurance and health policy topics – among many others – since 2017. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in English from the University of Rochester and currently lives in Albany, New York.

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