What is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager or Aging Life Care Specialist?

By: Laura Freed, RN, BS, CCM

Navigating through the “healthcare maze” can be confusing, frustrating, even frightening. Having a private Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) can help lead you in the right direction and assist in making the best choices of providers in your community.  Since the field of private Geriatric Care Management is still relatively new, it is essential to educate the community about the services GCM’s can provide and the extensive training it takes to acquire the credential.  The Case Management Society of America (CMSA) adopted a philosophy regarding case management. They state in their standards of practice manual that the underlying premise of case management is based in the fact that when an individual reaches the optimal level of wellness and functional capability, everyone benefits. This includes the individuals being served, their support systems, the health care delivery systems and the various reimbursement sources. Case Management serves as a means for achieving client wellness and autonomy thorough advocacy, communication, education, identification of service resources and service facilitation in order to optimize the outcome for all concerned. (CMSA, 2009)

Geriatric Care Managers are experts to assist in many different areas, such as:

  • Home care services – assess what types of services are needed and assisting the family to monitor those services
  • Medical management –facilitating communication between doctor and family, attending doctor appointments, and monitoring client’s adherence to medical orders and instructions if needed
  • Medication management- if the GCM is an RN, they can fill medication reminders and keep the doctor and family informed of possible side effects. They can suggest changing medication or even discontinuing certain meds when they are no longer needed.
  • Communication – keep family members and other services informed as to the changing needs of the client
  • Legal –consulting with an elder law attorney, providing an expert opinion for courts in determining the level of care of a client
  • Financial– reviewing or overseeing bill payment or consulting with accountant or client’s Power of Attorney
  • Safety and security – assess and monitor client at their home; making recommendations for a safe home; observing changes and potential risks of abuse or exploitation
  • Housing – helping families evaluate and select the appropriate level of care needed to stay at home or residential options
  • Social activities – suggesting and providing opportunities for the client to engage in social, recreational, or cultural activities that enrich their quality of life

In May of 2015 the National Association for Professional Geriatric care Managers (NAPGM) will role out a new name that is exclusive for Certified Care Managers. The certified individual will now be called an Aging Life Care Manager or Specialist. This new name will let the general public know that the individual has gone through in order to achieve their certification.

Aging Life Care Managers are professionals that help facilitate these services for our aging and disabled population.  They often become the client’s coach and guide when trying to find their way through the healthcare maze.  The Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) must have years of experience in the field of case management while having a degree in nursing, social work, psychology, gerontology or other fields related to aging and elder care before they can sit for their credentialing exam.  They must take up to 80 hours of continuing education each certification period. The main certifications one must possess to become a GCM are: CCM (Certified Case Manager), CMC (Case Manager Certified), C-ASWCM (Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager or C-SWCM (Certified Social Work Case Manager).

One way to find GCM in your area is to go through the National Association for Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM). Geriatric Care Managers that are members of NAPGCM differ from Elder or Patient Advocates, Senior Advisors or Navigators, or even people that just call themselves a Geriatric Care Manger. NAPGCM members must meet stringent education, experience and certification requirements of the organization. All care managers are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and standard of practice.  (NAPGCM, 2013) They are required to prove their degrees, certifications and even have references. These GCM’s have the “ Betty Crocker Gold Seal of Approval”!  To find a GCM close to you and for more information go to www.caremanager.org.

For more information contact Laura Freed, RN, BS, CCM

Wishes4Wellness Nursing Care Management


(727) 365-0942


Leave a Comment