finance

No kids? Plan carefully for retirement

"The geriatric care managers' profession is not well-defined and there are no state laws governing it," says Cooper. "You might have a nurse's aide acting as a care manager or you might have a social worker with a master's degree acting as one. There are no real standards and that's where the problem is."

The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers is trying to change that, according to director Debra Levy. In 2006, members voted to require that all new members hold one of four approved certifications: Care Manager Certified (CMC), Certified Case Manager (CCM), Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM) and/or Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM). All current members must hold one of the certifications by Jan. 1, 2010.

"It's not that difficult to hang out a shingle and say you're a care manager," Levy says. "We want to contribute to the quality of the profession.

Finding help
"Most major cities have geriatric care managers (from the association). They're health and human services experts, social workers and registered nurses. Some have backgrounds in counseling or gerontology. We do a comprehensive assessment of their needs in their home, nursing or assisted-living facility. We consider physical, medical and psychological (needs) and we see if there are legal or financial matters that are not in place. We suggest a plan of care and then most of the time we're hired to implement the plan."

Fees for services vary, but the comprehensive assessment runs $300 to $800, according to Levy. Ongoing care ranges from $80 to $200 an hour depending on the complexity of the care and the region of the country. Long-term care insurance may cover costs, but Medicare and traditional health insurance plans do not.

Doctors, especially those specializing in the elderly, should also be able to assist with assessments and referrals to qualified care managers. You can also search the NAPGCM database for care managers that belong to the organization. Be sure to check credentials before hiring anyone. Another source for information about geriatric care managers is HelpGuide.org.

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