Benefits of Hiring a Geriatric Care Manager: Interview with Julie Fohrman, Founder and Director of North Shore Geriatric Care Management

It’s no secret that deciding on quality care for an elderly loved one can be an overwhelming prospect for any family or individual. Whether its rehabilitative care, long term, or short term care, you have many components to consider like social stimulation, medical care, legal support, and financial matters. On top of it all, there are a plethora of agencies on the north shore competing for your business. So how do you know if they will deliver on their promises? How do you know your elderly loved ones will receive the very best? If you feel overwhelmed trying to handle it all, you might wish to consult a Geriatric Care Manager. We sat down with Julie Fohrman, MA, MG, Founder and Director of North Shore Geriatric Care Management and got some valuable insight as to what a geriatric care manager does.
What inspired you to enter into the geriatric care industry?
I had a very close relationship with both sets of grandparents when I was young. I enjoyed being with them and their friends, and knew that this was my calling from a very young age. In college, I volunteered in nursing homes, and have now been in the field over 20 years, always working with seniors and families in an aging field.
What is a Geriatric Care Manager?
So many people don’t know what a Geriatric Care Manager does, since it’s a relatively new position. It’s important for families to be aware of all the valuable resources that are available to them when it comes to making decisions on care and end of life choices. A Geriatric Care Manager helps support the older individual as well as the family members to find the right solutions and referrals for all of their needs. We can make recommendations on resources such as care givers, insurance benefits, senior housing communities, physician referrals, finding the right medical equipment like walkers and wheel chairs, home health companies, and so on.
Geriatric care managers develop a comprehensive care plan to assist individuals with everything from finances, to legal affairs, accessing insurance, medical care, estate planning and all aspects of caring for an elderly loved one. The services of a care manager can be beneficial to anyone, whether they live out of state from their aging family member and need help navigating a medical situation, or just need guidance to cope with the different challenges of aging, care managers help families help develop solutions for all of those needs.
They are expert problem solvers, skilled at providing options and making recommendations to support a client and his or her family in making informed decisions. They often times function as an advocate, liaison, and/or support system to the client and their family members. Geriatric Care Managers are trained healthcare professionals qualified to assess the biological, psychological and social needs of older adults. Ongoing screening, monitoring and follow-up is provided to closely address any changes in the older adult’s daily life.
How has the industry changed over the last 10 years?
The volume of senior service and elder care providers everywhere has increased tenfold, so finding the right fit for seniors has become more challenging. There used to only be 3-4 home care agencies in the area, but now there are over 100. It is very important to find the right experience, the right agency and support, so having a care manager can be key. Additionally, there are over 40 nursing homes in the north shore area alone, and there are a lot of things that need to be considered with so many choices available. It often helps to have someone to guide them and educate them from an objective third party perspective.
What is your relationship like with Freedom Home Care?
They are one of my preferred providers. When I have a client that needs a caregiver, I work with the staff at Freedom Home Care to make sure they are well serviced, and I follow up with them every week. I have a great relationship with the management there. Working with the staff and finding different caregivers is a common place task for geriatric care managers to assist clients with. The communication is great, I know who to call every hour of the day.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see clients facing today?
Today, many seniors want to stay and age in place in their homes. They want personalized care, and would prefer not to go into an institutionalized care setting if they can remain in their own homes. Most dread living in a medical community. They want to live comfortably, and be near their family and the surroundings they are accustomed to. Finding the right care, along with bringing in services to help modify the home to make it senior friendly can be a challenge. Especially for large, old homes, and homes with stairs. Luckily, there are a lot of solutions for home renovation, and a lot of options for seniors today apart from going into a nursing home or assisted living facility, like Freedom Home Care, for example.
Fortunately, significant changes in long term care insurance plans have been taking place over the last several years and they are now starting to honor in-home caregiver services. The plans used to be strictly limited to coverage for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but now are supporting many seniors’ wishes to remain in their homes.
Can you talk about a pinnacle moment in your career?
Being with someone at the end of their life is always very rewarding and such an honor. I had a husband and wife as clients about 5 years ago, whom I helped with everything from dismantling their home of 50 years to moving them into a retirement and assisted living community. I made many referrals along the way, and coordinated medical services over many years for them. I referred all of their physicians, organized their caregivers, appointments, and went to many rehab and hospital facilities with them. I helped arrange hospice care for the husband, when the time came. When he eventually passed, I was able to help relocate his wife to North Carolina to be closer to her two daughters by identifying a retirement community near them.
I’ve been with clients through so many critical and crisis moments of trust and transition, overseeing their medical care, up to their passing– you really become part of the family during this important critical stages of their lives. For some clients I may just do a one-time initial assessment and make referrals, however, for others I have been consistently involved with for many years at a time.
What does Freedom Home Care offer that sets them apart?
It’s their exceptional caregivers. Whether for short term rehab with a client recovering from an illness, or full time, live-in caregivers, Freedom Home Care can staff my clients 24 hours a day. They have wonderfully flexible hours, which allows families to customize care for the hours that their loved one needs. Freedom Home Care also does a lot of staff training and supervision with their care givers.
About North Shore Geriatric Care Management
As head of North Shore Geriatric Care Management, Julie Fohrman, MA, MG is committed to partnering with seniors and their families, laying the groundwork for the delivery of outstanding quality care and services, either in the home or in senior housing communities. North Shore Geriatric Care Management meets seniors and their families at the point of need and connects them with effective services, the highest quality of care and housing. North Shore Geriatric Care Management is a superior resource for advice, advocacy, referrals, resources and care management services that will maximize the quality of life and care for seniors.
To learn more about North Shore Geriatric Care Management, please contact 847.780.4733 or email
Geriatric Care Management Services Include:
* Comprehensive care plan assessments.
* Quality resources and referrals.
* Counseling and ongoing support.
* Senior housing placements to retirement, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehab facilities.
* Screen, coordinate and monitor in-home help and other services.
* Coordinate and communicate health care services between client, family and health care providers.
* Advocacy in hospitals and long-term care settings.
* Review financial, legal and medical issues in order to offer referrals to geriatric specialists and conserve assets.
* Liaison to families living at a distance, overseeing care, and quickly alerting families to potential problems.
* Emergency crisis management and intervention.
* Consumer education, counseling and support.
* Personalized services tailored to meet the varied and diverse needs of each client.