Geriatric consultant can help families as parents age

By Denice Gierach – As published in the Naperville Sun – June 15, 2008

As the population ages and particularly our parents age, it is appropriate and helpful to use the services of a geriatric consultant.  There are a number of companies in existence at the present time that offer a large variety of services depending on your family’s needs.  These firms are part patient advocate and part mediators with the family when required.

For instance, on many occasions it is necessary to determine whether mom or dad are able to live independently in their own home.  While you might determine that mom or dad are not able to live by themselves anymore, a geriatric consultant may be able to step in, talk with your parent, evaluate the parent’s health as well as their home and surroundings.  They also attempt to involve the parent in the decision which, at your parent’s age is a huge step for that parent to take.  Most geriatric consultants began their careers in the nursing field and many have advanced training in dealing with elder depression, which affects many elderly people that may come as a result of poor nutrition, bad drug interactions or infirmities due to age.  The geriatric consultants can also connect the family with the appropriate physicians or treatments for the senior parent based upon their evaluation of the issues.

Sometimes, it is appropriate to have that parent live in assisted care. Many times, however, with the addition of a part time care assistant and modifying the home environment to include items in the home that would extend the time that the senior parent may be able to live in his or her own home semi independently.  This may involve a structural change to the residence, such as an elevator or chair to allow the senior to go to the second floor or remodel the first floor to accommodate another bedroom or making sure that the proper on-site caretaker is there to assist with chores around the home.

The geriatric consultant can also help to mediate between siblings, many of whom may have a different idea of how to help their parent.  One sibling may feel that the parent would be better off in a nursing home or assisted care, while another may determine that the parent should stay in his or her home.  The senior parent normally has enough of their own fears to deal with and tend to react negatively towards the conflicts between their children over what will happen with their life.

If the parent has had extensive medical bills that need to be sorted or reimbursement needs to be applied for, many geriatric consultants may supply this need.  They also can assist in finding an appropriate assisted care or nursing home facility that would accommodate your parent’s needs and wishes.  If your parent requires in home care, they can provide the personnel to do it, provide meals, escort your parent to medical appointments, supervised the on-site caretaker and provide many other services.

The bottom line is that using a geriatric consultant will give your family piece of mind, as many of my clients can attest to.