Caring for Your Aging Loved One: Utilizing an Elder Law Attorney and Geriatric Care Manager

September 18, 2020

As your loved one ages, navigating the planning process, medical system and Medicaid system can be overwhelming. An Elder Law attorney and Geriatric Care Manager can help you and your loved one plan for their present and future legal needs, care needs and housing needs.

What is Elder Law?

Elder Law is an area of law that focuses on different legal concerns to address issues affecting the aging population. An Elder Law attorney focuses their legal knowledge to fit the needs of seniors. Some of these areas of law include: estate planning needs, asset protection planning, powers of attorney, guardianship, long-term care planning, care coordination, Medicare, Medicaid, managed care, executing advanced directives and payments for healthcare and long-term care.

An Elder Law attorney also assists with housing and residential care options, such as Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Assisted Livings, Rehabilitation Centers and Nursing/Long-term Care. These facilities present complicated admissions agreements that need to be carefully reviewed so family members assisting with care do not incur personal liability. Elder Law attorneys assist with this contract by reviewing and helping family members make the best legal, financial and healthcare related decisions at the right time. Elder Law attorneys also help families with overall planning for estate planning needs and long-term care planning goals; whether it is private pay or a Medicaid-based plan.  Many clients benefit from the combined use of an Elder Law attorney and a Certified Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) to provide a holistic approach to the planning and care coordination process.

What is a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM)?

A GCM is a social worker, nurse, gerontologist or mental health professional who acts as a guide for clients with specialized care needs. GCM’s provide expertise in the assessment, plan development, coordination and monitoring of elder care services to ensure the highest quality of care. A GCM helps the client maintain independence for as long as possible.

A GCM advocates for the older adult providing services such as:

  1. Assessment of client
  2. Implementation of services based on this assessment
  3. Ongoing care management and coordination of care
  4. Advocacy for health care issues
  5. Advocacy for needed services in a long-term care facility

They strive to promote wellness of the client, assisting to achieve the highest level of functioning in the least restrictive environment.

A GCM’s level of experience and expertise vary. A professional that belongs to The Aging Life Care Association has committed to adhering to the pledge of ethics and standards of practices set forth by the Association. ALCA members are also required to have a certain level of schooling and credentialing.

The Elder Law attorney and Geriatric Care Manager working together for the benefit of the client – offer a wealth of wisdom, compassion, and care to the client and family.

About the authors:

Erika Flynn Apelis is an Elder Law and estate and wealth planning attorney in KJK’s Estate Planning Group. Should you have any questions about planning for your loved one, feel free to reach out by phone (216-978-5353) or email (efa@kjk.com).

Bridget Ritossa is The Owner of Careplan Geriatric Care Managers and serves as a regional board member for The Aging Life Care Association™ formerly known as The National Association of Geriatric Care Managers. Bridget is the Unit Leader for the Cleveland Aging Life Care Association. She has been practicing geriatric social work and care management for over 25 years in the Cleveland area working in hospitals, CCRC’s and in the home environment. She is a licensed social worker and certified care manager. She can be reached by phone (440-476-9534) or email (bridget@careplangcm.com).


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