Geriatric Care Manager vs. Case Manager: What’s the Difference?

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Geriatric care managers and geriatric case managers sound similar, but they don’t refer to the same person. Elder care case management and geriatric care management are services provided by two different healthcare professionals.

In this article, we define who geriatric care managers and geriatric case managers are and the differences between them. As you read, remember to identify whether the section refers to a care” manager vs. “case” manager. They’re easy terms to mix up because they’re only separated by one letter, especially if you’re skimming. 

By the end of this blog, you’ll understand the difference between a geriatric care manager and a geriatric case manager—and which elder care professional your family may need to contact.

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What Is a Geriatric Care Manager?

A geriatric care manager can be a social worker, nurse, gerontologist, counselor, or other elder care professional. Geriatric care managers coordinate Whole-person Care services that support the physical, emotional, mental, and healthcare needs of aging loved ones.

Geriatric care management (GCM) helps families of older adults:

  • Create tailored elder care solutions
  • Make informed decisions
  • Manage crises
  • Relieve stress 

Care managers assess and manage the day-to-day happenings of clients’ lives, not just the medical portion. Geriatric care managers see the big picture, connecting clients and their families with the resources that best fit their needs.

Who Are Geriatric Case Managers?

A geriatric case manager, also known as a “nurse case manager,” is a healthcare professional who coordinates the overall medical care of elderly patients.

Geriatric case managers are typically affiliated with a specific institution, facility, or entity (e.g., hospital, rehab facility, or insurance company), not a private home care management agency like Stowell Associates

These affiliations limit case managers from providing ongoing, personalized support to clients because their allegiance lies with the organization they represent. In contrast to geriatric care managers, case managers for elderly clients can only provide referrals to resources that the overarching institution they work for approves.

Care Manager vs. Case Manager

Many niche terms exist in the home care industry that may be difficult for families to decipher—“care manager vs. case manager” being two of them. While geriatric care managers and case managers sound similar, they have notable differences.

“Case management” is an older, broader term than “care management,” but they’re not interchangeable. Here’s a quick overview of the each.

Case Management 

Elder care case management oversees the physical rehabilitation and recovery of elderly adults. Case managers organize a plan that tends to a patient’s specific medical care needs. They collaborate with other healthcare providers, linking elders with appropriate services and resources.

Services that geriatric case managers provide may include:

Compared to a geriatric care manager, case managers are more concerned with logistics and less concerned with whole-person care. 

Care Management

Care management is more involved in the patient’s personal life than case management. It’s a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults facing ongoing health challenges. 

Additionally, the expertise of a geriatric care manager helps families navigate their loved one’s care in a time of uncertainty. Their guidance ensures a higher quality of life for the whole family, not just elderly clients.

Compared to a case manager, geriatric care managers are less involved with hands-on care, working behind the scenes with family members to plan, problem-solve, advocate, and monitor elders. Some professional care management services include:

While there’s some overlap between geriatric care managers vs. case managers, each profession is distinct—neither is more important or better than the other. Both geriatric care managers and case managers are often necessary to properly care for your aging family member.

How Do You Become a Geriatric Care Manager or Case Manager?

There’s no short-term training or certification program available for geriatric care managers or case managers like in-home caregivers. Both vocations often require higher education.

Geriatric care managers usually hold social work, nursing, or gerontology degrees, focusing on a senior’s quality of life as they age. In contrast, geriatric case managers often have nursing degrees, managing the medical care of their patients under the oversight of an institution (i.e., a hospital).

If you want to become a geriatric care manager, begin searching for a master’s degree in social work or registered nursing programs. Once graduated, consider reaching out to Stowell Associates for an opportunity to join our Care Team.

Do I Need Elder Care Case Management or Care Management?

If you’re still unsure whether your loved one needs elder care case management or geriatric care management, get in touch with our Care Team at Stowell Associates. Your situation could very well require a mixture of both.

Stowell Associates is an elder care management provider located in Southeast Wisconsin dedicated to the health and wellbeing of aging adults and their families. Whether your elderly loved one needs in-home care, provided through our partner, TheKey, or your family wants the expert guidance of a geriatric care manager, our Care Team can help.

We’ve provided high-quality elder care for nearly 40 years and would be honored to serve your family. Learn how we can help by speaking with one of our Care Advisors today.

In-home elder care solutions in Southeastern Wisconsin

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