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A famous writer we all know supposedly said, "to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

That saying may be appropriate in the elder care field. The challenge for clients and their families is to understand the best course of action or treatment, instead of just the best efforts of a specialized provider.

Sometimes the best care for the client involves several different approaches or disciplines. Perhaps it includes a combination of appropriate therapies, medicines, and counseling. Some providers may have good short-term solutions, but not have the tools or experience needed to achieve long-term improvement. Be cautious when the solution offered for a difficult condition or situation is simply more hammering, meaning increased dosages - of prescriptions, sessions, care providers, and the like.

Sometimes it's helpful to step back and re-evaluate. For those too close to a situation, or too emotionally involved, there are geriatric care professionals who will help clients and their families consider alternatives. Even within that group, though, you have to be careful that the professional is not also selling hammers on the side.

An example of a geriatric care manager might be the professional who left the kind comment on my Disaster Preparedness post.

In selecting a manager, you would want to go through the same level of screening and reference-checking that you would with any other provider. For those with big budgets, there are the high-end concierge services. What one of my clients found was that they can work wonders with major medical issues, but their service and knowledge in a particular geographic area was not as strong as the best local providers.

In researching care managers, the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers might be a good place to start.

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