What Is a Geriatric Care Manager?

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Written by Marie Hasty, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A geriatric care manager consults with a patient.

In 2020, one in six people in the U.S. were age 65 and over. By 2060, that number is expected to double. Older adults tend to have more complex care needs and often rely on care managers to help them make decisions and access resources. This essential specialty will likely become even more necessary as the population ages. But what is a geriatric care manager?

If you’re interested in non-traditional nursing roles and have a passion for helping older adults live the best life possible, geriatric care management might be a great path for you. This growing field combines nursing expertise with holistic healthcare approaches, ensuring geriatric adults get personalized, comprehensive care. Care managers assist older adults and their families in these essential areas:

  • Crisis intervention
  • Legal assistance
  • Advocacy
  • Resource connections
  • Family coordination
  • Housing and relocation
  • Finances
  • Health and disability management

What Is a Care Manager?

While you might have heard of case managers, care managers have a different role within families and the healthcare team. They work more closely with individual patients on their medical needs. Simply put, case managers tend to be social workers, while care managers tend to come from a nursing background.

Care managers work with patients who are at high risk for being hospitalized. Older adults, people with developmental disabilities, and patients with complex chronic conditions all rely on care managers to help keep them healthy. You can find care managers in:

  • Hospitals
  • Primary care office
  • Social service agencies
  • Insurance companies

What Is Geriatric Care Management?

Geriatric care managers specialize in coordinating and managing care for older adults and their families. They help patients understand their diagnoses and medications, manage multiple chronic conditions, relieve caregivers, and more. Here are some of the essential domains of this role:

  • Assessments and planning: Care managers assess a patient’s physical needs, mental state, and social environment, and use this data to develop care plans tailored to their needs and circumstances.
  • Advocacy and support: Care managers are a liaison between families, patients, and healthcare providers. They act as a support system for both seniors and their caregivers, offering guidance, emotional support, and resources.
  • Service coordination: Care managers help with appointment schedules, transportation, and even assisting with activities of daily living. They also streamline communication with specialists and other members of the healthcare team.
  • Crisis intervention: If a senior patient has a fall or another change in status, care managers help them and the family make decisions about next steps.
  • Long-term planning: Care managers help seniors and their families decide on plans that include housing options, legal matters, financial planning, and more. Their expertise and guidance helps older adults age with as much autonomy as possible.

What Does a Geriatric Care Manager Do?

Aging is a natural part of life, and geriatric care managers help older adults as they move through aging care. Here are a few of the tasks you might expect to perform in this role:

  • Following up after a senior’s specialist appointment to be sure they understand the plan of care and their medications.
  • Helping a senior understand their health insurance coverage through Medicare, and helping them apply for Medicaid if their financial situation requires assistance.
  • Regularly visiting the senior to assess their well-being, documenting any changes in health status, and providing detailed progress reports to the family members every two weeks.
  • Collaborating with an agency to provide in-home hospice care after a senior is discharged with a terminal diagnosis.

Geriatric Care Manager Salary

The average geriatric care manager salary is around $82,00 per year. Your salary will depend on where you work, your experience, and education.

Essential Skills for Becoming a Geriatric Care Manager

Think you want to pursue a career in geriatric care management? Check out the essential skills you’ll need to excel in this role:

  • Problem-solving: You’ll often encounter complex situations, like complicated family dynamics and changing plans of care. These problems may require creative solutions, and it’ll be up to you to think critically and plan around obstacles.
  • Communication: Care managers are expert communicators with patients, family, community members, and the healthcare team. You’ll also need to be a skilled listener, understanding the needs and concerns of the people around you.
  • Medical expertise: You’ll need a strong background in medicine to plan for complex medical conditions, manage medications, and coordinate treatments. You need to have the knowledge to advocate for appropriate medical care and interpret information for clients and families.
  • Time management: Depending on your role, you may work with several seniors at once. You’ll need to prioritize tasks and organize your time to ensure everyone’s needs are met.
  • Cultural congruence: The U.S. population is diverse, and you’ll need to be mindful of different cultural backgrounds and values. Being culturally sensitive and respectful is essential in nursing, and geriatric care is no exception.
  • Advocacy skills: One of the most important elements of this role is advocating for patients. You’ll need to have the confidence to speak up if your patient isn’t getting the medical care they need.

How to Become a Geriatric Care Manager: 4 Steps

Not every geriatric care manager is a nurse, but having a nursing background will make you highly valued in this role. If you’re already a nurse, transitioning into care management may take just a few months. If you’re not yet a nurse, you’ll need to follow these steps to get your license and gain experience:

1. Go to Nursing School

There are two tracks to become a registered nurse: an associate degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). ADNs are offered at technical and community colleges, while BSN programs are in four-year colleges. The BSN is becoming the preferred choice for acute care and career development, but either one will prepare you with essential skills for clinical nursing. Learn more about requirements for nursing school.

2. Pass the RN Licensure Exam

The National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) is the standardized test you’ll need to take to become a registered nurse. Once you’ve passed this exam, you’re ready to begin practicing as a new graduate nurse. Learn about passing the next gen NCLEX.

3. Gain Experience

Nursing school prepares you to practice, but gaining real-world experience will prepare you for a role in care management. Many new graduate nurses go into acute care, and that’s a great place to hone your critical thinking and clinical skills.

On the other hand, working as a geriatric nurse in a post-acute care setting will give you a look into long-term care and geriatric health needs. Whichever route you choose, working for a few years will help you become qualified for care management positions in hospitals, nursing homes, private duty, and more.

4. Get Certified

Getting nationally certified in geriatric care can help you build on your expertise, while making you more competitive in the job market. Membership in professional organizations can also help you grow your connections. Check out these certifications and organizations for geriatric care managers:

  • The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM), now also called the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), is the leading organization for elder care. They don’t certify care managers, but they’re an excellent resource for aging care professionals.
  • The National Academy of Certified Care Managers (NACCM) offers the Care Manager (CM) national certification, which formally recognizes your expertise in this field.
  • The International Commission on Health Care Certification (ICHCC) offers the Certified Geriatric Care Manager (CGCM) credential, which is for rehabilitation and health professionals, as well as elder care attorneys.

Explore Nursing Opportunities

Your nursing skills could be valuable as a geriatric care manager or another role. If you’re seeking a career move, you’ve come to the right place. Sign up for IntelyCare’s job notifications to learn about nursing opportunities that match your needs.