What is a Care Manager? When do I need one?

My hope is that this series of right-hand men/women illuminates the new(er) concepts and innovative companies that seek to bridge the gaps in a very broken healthcare and deathcare system. There is so much that falls on the family to figure out after receiving a scary diagnosis or losing a loved one, and the companies that are highlighted in this series are people who come alongside you, help you, advocate for you, get things done for you, and generally show you how to get to the other side of it. 

The concept that bridges the gap for families dealing with a scary diagnosis or aging healthcare/care needs are Care Managers and specifically, we want to highlight LifeLinks who is a Care Management company based in Nashville and are also a part of a larger nationwide company.

LifeLinks and their care management approach is the most similar model I have found to what Sunny Care Services does; Lifelinks focusing on the scary and unknown world of aging with regard to healthcare and general care needs, Sunny focusing on the unknown world after losing a loved one and what comes after. Both of our companies serving as navigators to families to step in as the daughter you wish you had to bring order and knowledge to these murky times.  

I’m excited to share more about what a Care Manager does and how critical they can be for families struggling to keep up with a loved one needing extra focus and care: 

  • What does a care manager do? A care manager helps a family to navigate through healthcare gaps or dilemmas by bringing in the right resources, educating families, and problem-solving.  A care manager is like a professional daughter, providing the care that a daughter would with a professional mindset. There are 8 areas of expertise that a care manager specializes in: Health and Disability, Housing, Local Resources, Family, Finances, Crisis Intervention, Legal, Counseling and the most important, Advocacy. The goal of a care manager is to provide peace of mind, improve quality of life, and reduce family stress. At LifeLinks specifically, we help seniors in their aging journey as well as people with special needs.  LifeLinks hires social workers, registered nurses, and highly educated, experienced professionals in the healthcare world.  LifeLinks care managers can help with transition assistance, doctor visits and coordination, help with medication management, education in disease processes, emotional support for families, back-up for caregivers or loved ones, or eyes and ears for family that lives in another town or state. 
  • What is the difference between a care manager and your care team? A care manager is a part of the care team.  The care team can consist of family, friends, caregivers, your doctors, non medical home care companies, or anyone involved in helping support you and your family during your aging adventure. Oftentimes, a care manager is viewed as the quarterback or the captain of the ship helping to coordinate care and make sure that all parties involved are on the same page. Again, the goal of a care manager is to provide peace of mind and improve quality of life.  When all care is coordinated, best care can be given.  Care managers provide holistic, client-centered care, meaning all decisions are based on the needs, wants, and wishes of the client.  Some people look to their doctor’s offices or the facility they live in to be the manager of their care team, however when there is a care manager serving in this role,  the care manager is able to provide care and advocacy across multiple disciplines/doctor’s offices and locations. This often means there is consistent advocacy in multiple situations.  
  • What does a Care Manager NOT do? A care manager does not do anything outside the scope of their license (i.e social work and nursing).  Also, with LifeLinks we belong to the Aging Life Care Association which means we fall into the ethical bylaws and standards of the association.  We do not manage or handle anything financially (i.e writing checks, paying bills, advising on financial issues), however, we do know and connect you to resources for anything financial. A care manager also is not a sitter service, assisted living facility, or caregiver.  
  • How much does a Care Manager cost? Does insurance cover a Care Manager? LifeLinks bills hourly for $105.  No healthcare insurance pays for what we do, but some long term care insurance companies will. We are able to work with most budgets and can put together a package if that works better for a client. 
  • When do I need a Care Manager? How do I know if I need one? My personal opinion is that anyone with healthcare issues needs a care manager! However, there are some good times to hire a care manager such as: when a new diagnosis is received, especially one that involves cognitive impairment, if your loved one won’t discuss their health or future planning, if there are family dynamics or decisions cannot be agreed upon, if you think your loved one may need a different level of care, if you live far away from your loved one, or if you just don’t know where to turn or what to do. At LifeLInks we offer a free consultation to help you determine if you need a care manager and how a care manager can help you or your family. 
  • What are some situations where a Care Manager is really needed? 
    • Here are some common situations  at LifeLinks when people come to us for help: 
      • Mom has been diagnosed with dementia a couple of years ago, but I am noticing things are changing.  I am not sure if she is eating or taking her medications or even bathing.
      • My husband passed away and I have no children.  Who is going to help me if something happens to me?
      • I haven’t been able to see mom and dad in a facility since COVID happened and I am worried about them.
      • My wife had a stroke and is in the hospital.  I am not sure what to do or what the next steps I should take?
      • My mother traditionally took care of my brother with special needs, but she passed away.  I need help with housing and his care.
      • I am overwhelmed with taking care of my loved one, but I don’t want to be a burden on anyone else. I really just want to go back to being a daughter, son, wife, etc.
      • I am worried about dad’s driving, but he does not think there is a problem.  I don’t want to rock the boat.
      • My mom has caregivers, but I am not sure they are a good fit.  Mom does not want to say anything for fear it may affect her.  This seems like a difficult situation.
      • My sister has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, what now?
      • Mom and Dad are stubborn and stoic and I just want the best for them.  They won’t let me in to help.  I have no idea what is going on, but I know something is not right. I keep worrying that I am going to get a call that the worst has happened. 

Amazing work that LifeLinks does and I hope this showed you that you do not need to do it all yourself. There are people who can help, and LifeLinks is certainly one of them. 

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We care for families going through the major life transitions brought on by an aging loved one or losing a loved one.  Our goal is to relieve the burdensome tasks from your plate so you can focus on what’s most important to you and your family.

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