mother and daughter

So… your parents are aging, you are worried because your mom gets lost driving to the neighborhood supermarket and your dad can’t remember to take his medicine, and their two-story house is full of fall hazards. You work full-time and can’t take them to their doctor’s appointments, much less hunt for new housing and actively protect them from being scammed.

Welcome to the club. Over 65 million people (29%) of the US population give care to chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family members/friends.

You know you need help, but where do you start? ​​In the best of worlds, you use a holistic approach. A lot of estate planning attorneys do just that. In addition to advising about legal issues such as estate planning, fiduciary law, and guardianship, they have in-house staff or can make referrals for social workers, care managers and gerontologists to problem-solve and coordinate care and resources.

Help Made Available To Family Caregivers

What can social workers, care managers and gerontologists do for you? A lot, as it turns out. 

They can make a care plan for your parents. According to the CDC, a care plan “can summarize a person’s health conditions, specific care needs, and current treatments. The care plan should outline what needs to be done to manage the care needs. It can help organize and prioritize caregiving activities”. The CDC has a care plan form on its website. 

They can visit your parents’ home, make recommendations on how to make it safer, and give you alternative housing options.

They can mediate between you and your parents over sticky issues like driving, money management, and down-sizing.  They can also counsel between family members if disagreements arise.

They can attend doctor visits, coordinate home health care, prepare a budget, help pay bills, find transportation, review day hab and senior centers, assist on benefits applications, and find caregiver support for you.

They can recommend a rehab facility when a parent breaks a hip, or an assisted living facility when your parent’s physical or mental abilities decline.

They can monitor a parent’s care while in a facility.

They can also let you know when guardianship may be necessary.

Differences Between Social Workers, Care Managers, and Gerontologists

Just exactly who are these wonderful people? They are usually categorized by training.

A social worker must have a college degree. From there, it goes by experience and licensing. In Texas, social workers are licensed by the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners.

A geriatric care manager is a social worker, nurse, gerontologist, or mental health professional who acts as a guide for families with specialized care needs

A gerontologist is someone who has a degree in social gerontology. It concentrates on the relationship between the elderly and their caregivers, families, and extended society. Researchers in this subdiscipline try to understand how aging will affect social relationships and roles. They also work on developing policies and programs to improve the quality of life for older adults.

A select few go on to get a master’s degree in gerontology. This group has gone deeply into the field of caring for the elderly. They can perform comprehensive assessments to manage the physical, social, and socioeconomic factors that affect the health and well-being of older adults.

Let’s go back to the holistic approach. You should have your parents’ accountant, attorney, financial advisor, and physician available when you need them. These are the experts when you have thorny issues.

For day-to-day problem solving, however, hire a social worker, care manager or gerontologist. You and your parents need the help.

Learn More About Adult Guardianship With Hammerle Finley Law Firm

Hammerle Finley offers assistance in adult guardianship, estate planning, litigation, real estate law, and business law. If you’re looking for legal assistance, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to discuss your options.

Attorney Virginia Hammerle has practiced litigation and estate planning for 40 years. She is founder and managing attorney for Hammerle Finley Law Firm.