Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease care managers take a holistic approach to maximizing outcomes for patients, ensuring that all aspects of an individual’s physical, social, family and health care needs are met.
What is an Alzheimer’s Care Manager?
Care managers coordinate the many facets of Alzheimer’s care, including drug interventions as well as non pharmacologic therapies, like a safe environment and social engagement, and other issues that go beyond daily medication. As the Alzheimer’s Association describes, dementia and Alzheimer’s care managers have these chief goals:
- Maximize the individual’s function in daily activities
- Enhance cognition, mood and behavior
- Foster a safe environment
- Promote social opportunities
Combined, these goals help ensure that the person with Alzheimer’s disease maintains quality of life and that caregivers and families receive the support they need to make decisions about their loved one’s care.
Care Manager Duties
Whether it is at home or in a long-term care facility, care managers guide families through complex, long-term care issues. Among their many duties, care managers may do some or all of the following, depending on the situation:
- Conduct a thorough assessment of your loved one, looking for issues relevant to his or her situation, such as health history, memory, nutrition, safety, insurance and finances
- Create a care plan that incorporates the assessment and recommends local community options
- Arrange care services tailored to the unique needs of your loved one
- Monitor your loved one on a regular basis, ensuring that any health changes receive the attention and accommodations they require
Where Do Care Managers Work?
Care managers work in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospice agencies, retirement communities, hospitals, non-profit agencies and other facilities that focus on senior care. They also help at-home caregivers and family members.
Professional Standards for Care Managers
The National Association of Geriatric Care Managers has set standards in education, training and experience to become certified as a geriatric care manager. Additionally, the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP) offers specialized certification in dementia and Alzheimer’s care.
To achieve NCCDP certification, candidates must meet all local, state and federal regulations, as well as these requirements:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree in a health care field, such as therapeutic recreation, gerontology, social work, or health care administration, or they must be an LPN (licensed practical nurse) or RN (registered nursing license)
- Have completed a comprehensive Alzheimer’s and dementia education program, as well as other NCCDP-approved training courses
- Have three years of health care experience working directly with geriatric patients
- Have one year of experience in a health care management role
Questions to Ask When Looking for a Care Manager
When you are looking for an Alzheimer’s care manager, remember that not all of them specialize in the same thing. So it is important to learn about a care manager’s particular experience and background. Here are some questions to ask when interviewing care managers:
1. Do you specialize in dementia and Alzheimer’s care management? In what other areas of geriatric care do you specialize?
2. What are your professional credentials?
3. Are you licensed?
4. How long have you been providing Alzheimer’s care management services?
5. Can you provide references?
6. Do you provide home care services (if applicable)?
7. How will you communicate information to me (phone, in writing or other)?
8. Are you available for emergencies?
9. What are your fees? (Remember to get this in writing)
How to Find a Care Manager
Have you worked with an Alzheimer’s care manager? How did he or she help? What advice would you offer someone searching for an Alzheimer’s care manager? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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