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Posted May 13, 2005

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Care Resources: Geriatric Care Managers

Q. My father has had Parkinson's disease for eight years. How do I begin researching care alternatives to assist my mother in her 24/7 caretaking role? I am an only child living six hours away in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and they reside in Appleton, Wisconsin. I have no idea where to find referrals on companion care or skilled nursing care. Is there a website that would help locate assistance in Appleton? Also, if my dad has no long-term care insurance, what type of attorney would be the best to talk to about sheltering his "net worth" to help pay for the long-term care, etc.? An estate planning attorney? 

Wendy B., Edina, Minnesota

A. The best resource for obtaining objective and appropriate recommendations for care in your father's area is through the services of a geriatric care manager. These professionals are experts in long-term care planning and crisis management for seniors and their family members. A geriatric care manager will meet with your family, assess the situation in their home, and then provide all of you with a written "care plan" or recommendations for in-home care, adult day care, assisted living, or nursing home placement. Once your family has had the opportunity to review the plan of care, you will have the option of implementing services yourself, or allowing the care manager to implement those services for you. Geriatric care managers practice privately, therefore their services are most often paid for by the family. This is an invaluable resource, and well worth the price. Fees are based on time spent with the family, and vary from region to region across the United States. It's sort of like hiring an accountant or a lawyer. You can search for a professional geriatric care manager in your area by visiting the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers website.

For asset protection strategies and legal documents (durable power of attorney, advanced directives, trusts and wills), it is important to seek the advice of an elder law attorney. These are professionals who have taken the time to understand the complicated senior laws that exist in our country today. They can assist you understand the laws that apply to the state of Wisconsin. You can find a qualified elder law attorney at the website of The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

(This answer is provided by Valerie VanBooven, a registered nurse, professional geriatric care manager, author, and professional speaker. She is a leading expert on long-term care planning and crisis management. Valerie is president of Senior Care Solutions, a private geriatric care management practice in the St. Louis area. Her books include Aging Answers: Secrets to Successful Long-Term Care Planning, Caregiving, and Crisis Management. She can be reached at

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