As many as 7 million Americans live 450 or more miles from a family member for whom they have primary care responsibility, according to the National Institute on Aging. Others live closer but still face challenges balancing caregiving, work and family.
Geriatric-care management is one solution. A manager can create a care plan, hire and oversee help, monitor medication and doctors' visits and apply for entitlements. "I am giving families a way out of the quagmire they are in," said Anne Recht, a licensed geriatric-care manager and president of AM Recht & Associates. The company also offers companion services.
For Recht, elder care is a passion. She has been consulted by the Nassau County Supreme Court, lectures on geriatric issues for the New York State Bar Association and was honored this year by the Long Island Alzheimer's Association.
How did you get into the geriatric-care management?
After I got my MSW [master of social work] I was working at a community center . . . I hadn't really thought about what population I wanted to work with. A friend told me about a job in a guardianship program. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I went to a seminar and a geriatric-care manager was speaking, and I thought, "That sounds interesting."
How important is chemistry in selecting a geriatric case manager?
I think that you do have to have chemistry, but I think it's more about confidence, a confidence that I am going to lead them to a better quality of life.
In the current economy, why might a family spend the money on a geriatric-care manager?
When you have a family member who is starting to have trouble with daily living and you have a job and maybe a family, you're stressed out and may be spending money in ways that are not necessary. I can help you find resources, be they financial, health and safety, or medical.
Why did you decide to add companion services last year?
There are different views regarding geriatric-care managers offering this kind of service, but I find that it's comforting to my clients to know the companion is coming from my company. The synergy is working out the way I envisioned.
What is the story you will always remember?
There was a father and a mentally disabled son. The son was taking care of his father, and he [deteriorated mentally]. So now they're both in a nursing home. I did a home assessment and we put in a ramp and I got them a male aide, and they were able to go home. The aide was so great. He was dancing with the son and taking him to Mets games. Otherwise they would have stayed in the nursing home.
How do you deal with family dynamics?
It's a process. You can't bring up change to people in their 70s and 80s, especially coming from their children, and expect change that day. I think it's my job to make sure they respect each other's points of view and know that there's love and caring, and if we come from there, now we can talk about other things.
Name. Anne M. Recht, president, AM Recht & Associates in Plainview.
What she does. Geriatric-care management and companion services.
Roles they play. Office workers, geriatric case managers, companions.