What Is an Elder Care Team?

As people age, many need to relinquish some of their care to others.  The number of transferred responsibilities may grow as age increases.  Spouses and family members frequently shoulder these responsibilities, but are themselves aging.  There comes a point, as the elder’s need grows, when families can no longer provide adequate care for an aging person of declining capabilities.

Elder care teams address this complex problem.  The family or other caregiver fashions a team to help the family address their elder’s needs.  For example, the family may hire legal counsel to manage the business affairs and conflicts of the elder person.  An accountant or bookkeeper may take over bill paying and making banking deposits, as well as investment strategy.  A medical care manager can help calendar the elder’s medical and dental appointments, regulate the elder’s medication regime, and accompany the elder to the often-numerous medical appointments that attend later life.  A psychologist or social worker may provide therapy and perspective for both the elder and his care-giving family.  Hands-on care providers my take over day-to-day care for the elder, part time or full time, providing assistance with hygiene, feeding,  administration of medications, injury prevention, and warm regular social exchange.  The team may collaborate with the family in moving the elder to an appropriate graduated care facility.  The family reduces its involvement in providing care to a manageable level, improving the intimate social system of the elder, and improving the general social content of the elder’s world.

An elder care team is an extremely flexible tool for managing the growing needs of an aging loved one.  The level of involvement and the skill set of the team members lie in the control of the family and elder.  Elder care teams create a gifted “extended family” providing support of the elder and his stressed family system.  With the addition of a hospice team, as death nears, the end of life can be managed well and compassionately without injury to the surviving family, beyond the loss of their loved one.