If you wanted to build a house, what’s the first thing you would do? The first thing you might do is ask around for some recommendations on a builder. Because we all know the builder is responsible for the entire home project from start to finish, so it’s important to find someone who is well versed in new construction. The builder will coordinate all of the trade professionals to assist in the home project including the design, framing, plumbing and electric. The builder organizes this crew and confirms jobs are completed timely. All of these professionals ensure your home fits your needs and is a safe place to live.
When it comes to health, our wellbeing also requires a team of trained professionals. Many of us don’t have someone like a builder to organize our team of providers. For aging adults, building a network of healthcare providers is often tricky. It may take time to build a rolodex of health providers, requiring trial and error to find the best fit. However, connections to healthcare providers do not occur until a need presents itself.
But what about prevention?
Prevention becomes much easier with a built network of skilled providers. These valuable connections can help to identify symptoms, prevent issues before they occur and prepare for unexpected events. Of course, finding these contacts can be a difficult task. Recommendations from your physician, family or friends can be a start to identifying professionals who can assist in exacerbations of conditions with medical intervention, environmental modifications and more.
Another great way to build your network is a geriatric care coordinator. Care coordinators are a wonderful resource for seniors and their families, as they can function much like a builder. A care coordinator can help to build and create a network of healthcare professionals. They assist in identifying potential needs and coordinating care accordingly. A geriatric care coordinator can be especially helpful in assisting to coordinate care for seniors without adult children or with adult children not residing locally.
But where do you find a care coordinator?
During routine appointments with medical providers, ask for recommendations! Medical providers may have a care coordinator they’ve worked with in the past with good experience. Otherwise, organizations like Department on Aging, Aging Resources or Senior Centers may have recommendations for geriatric care coordinators.
But how do you ensure it’s the right fit?
Care coordinators may have varying experience with aging adults. Some care coordinators may specialize in helping adults age at home while others may specialize in transitioning to an independent or assisted living facility.
Interviewing for the right fit is a crucial part of the process. A simple phone call or meet and greet can help family members to get a feel for how the care manager practices. The interview can also reveal a care coordinator’s specialty areas and previous experience. Geriatric care coordinators frequently become members of the family, so it’s important to find someone the family feels comfortable communicating and collaborating with.