The majority of geriatric care managers are employed in private practice. Others work for elder care service organizations, adult day care centers, elder abuse programs, banks, and other institutions or businesses that have dealings with older people. Some faith-based agencies, such as CJE SeniorLife (formerly Council for Jewish Elderly), also offer geriatric care management. Any of these might be potential employers; even individual practitioners may be likely to hire assistants and caregiving aides.
Health maintenance organizations do not currently pay for geriatric care management services. As the population ages and the collective voice of senior citizens grows louder, we may see more subsidized care management for the elderly. Managed-care organizations are beginning to recognize that geriatric care managers play a key role in cost control. Geriatric care managers' services in promoting their clients' health, safety, and overall well-being, save managed-care organizations money by lowering the occurrence of such things as small illnesses, which, left untreated, become major illnesses requiring hospitalizations.
Geriatric care managers can work in numerous places across the country. Many jobs will be clustered around major metropolitan areas and areas of the country (such as the Southeast) where many elderly people reside, but opportunities will exist virtually anywhere.
One method of becoming a geriatric care manager is to work in a related field, such as social work, nursing, or nursing home management, before moving on to a care manager career. Jobs in these areas will give you experience and allow you to interact with those who are already geriatric care managers. In this way you can build up your resume, make connections at various agencies, learn about local resources, and perhaps even begin establishing a clientele for your own business as a geriatric care manager.
Another possibility is to start out working for another care manager who is already established in the field. This will allow you to learn the job at your own pace and gradually step up to the full duties of the job. You will have the opportunity to provide services to existing clients within the limits of your abilities. As you learn and grow, the geriatric care manager may allow you to take on more and more of the duties of your intended career. In this way you will also gain experience and make contacts that will ultimately help you develop your own clientele.
A third option is to work with your school's career services center, which may have job listings or receive notices from agencies about openings. In addition, consider joining a professional organization, such as the Aging Life Care Association. This will help you keep up-to-date on topics important to those working with the elderly and give you an excellent opportunity to network with professionals.
Advancement options depend to a large extent on each geriatric care manager's goals. For example, those who work as assistants to other care managers or those who are part of a business with several care managers may want to advance by starting their own management service. Those with their own care management services may advance by establishing an excellent reputation and increasing their clientele. A sizeable client base, in turn, will boost the business's earnings; additionally, the care managers may then raise their fees for their in-demand services. On the other hand, some geriatric care managers who have their own businesses may consider it an advancement to form a partnership with other care managers. One benefit of this would be that each manager could concentrate on the areas of care management he or she enjoys the most. Another possibility is for a geriatric care manager in solo private practice to move to a different work setting; for example, a manager may leave solo practice to work for an organization, such as a faith-based group, that provides geriatric care management. And, naturally, this situation could be reversed: A manager could move from a job with an organization to a job in private practice.
No matter what route to advancement geriatric care managers choose, the key factors to their success will be having a reputation for doing excellent work; keeping their knowledge about laws, finances, medications, and services up-to-date; and enjoying working with and for the elderly.
To learn more about the field, read:
Join the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Talk to geriatric care managers about their careers. The ALCA offers a list of members (who might make good information interview candidates) at http://www.aginglifecare.org.