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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Geriatric care managers need your love and support

Geriatric care managers need your support. I was lunching recently with a friend who is a geriatric care manager (GCM) and I decided to ask her a few questions about why we don’t see more technology interest from GCMs. For those of you who haven’t heard of GCMs, here is the definition from their National Association (NAPGCM): "A professional Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) is a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older relatives. The GCM is trained and experienced in any of several fields related to care management, including nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology." In essence, GCMs are the go-to professionals for families dealing with the frail elderly.

Don’t Know What. Don’t Know Why. Even though we know that GCMs have participated in AIP tech presentations at their conferences, we need to make sure that GCMs know about the variety of technology products available for their frail clients and how to best integrate them into a care plan. They need success stories so they can adequately demonstrate usefulness to their clients. Not surprisingly, many of their clients resist unknown technology products. (“Why haven’t I seen it on TV? None of my friends have that.”) Whether it’s affordability or fear of technology, clients aren’t interested in tech gear unless the GCM can give them a darn-good-reason for obtaining the product.

Help GCMs understand. GCMs know there are technology products out there that may be helpful to their clients. Some of the more commonly used ones are the medication dispensers, the personal emergency response systems, and the Jitterbug phone.   When it gets into using other products, a GCM is going to want to know how the product was successful and want examples demonstrating usefulness to their clients.

The Fear Factor Times Two. GCMs themselves are not comfortable recommending technology that they don't know how to use, install or maintain.  They don’t want to put something into place that they can’t figure out how to support. If it is a product that requires family interaction with the client -- like Skype or Presto email service -- there is additional training and support that needs to happen.

Help GCMs find tech professionals. Partnership with local geeks, uh, technology professionals is a critical path to success for them – people who can train clients and support the technology. GCMs are not alone here; most of the targets for AIP Tech are not generally comfortable with technology and need trained professionals to help. Local organizations that support RESNA philosophies are good places to find trained professionals who understand assistive technologies.

No job loss, just job enhancement. GCMs may look at technology as replacements for their services – the fear of job loss that I noted in this posting. This, of course, is not the case, but an issue that AIP tech companies need to understand and solve by explaining how their solution can help the GCM be more productive, have happier clients, easier workflow, etc.

Building the GCM AIP Tech Arsenal. My GCM friend recommended product sheets that fit into the way she does assessments – how can limitations in ADLS, iADLS, family-coordination, etc. be helped by a product or service. She wants to know the real cost of the product or service (install, support, monthly, etc.) Plus she wants to be able to share success stories of deployment in situations like she encounters, so clients can immediately see the benefits of the product or service.

One final thought -- help understand the baseline of tech use today. Fill out Laurie’s Future of Home Care Technology Survey so we can all better understand how to overcome these issues and identify ways that technology can help GCMs.

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I've known for a long time that GMCs are a key gateway in our product information flow. What I don't know is how to connect with them. The NAPGCM annual conference is too expensive for only a few hundred attendees. Their online member list is specifically not for commercial use. Their website is beautiful and well organized, but it doesn't provide any information for potential advertisers or companies wanting to submit products for review. Any suggestions?

You could try to find a local chapter or work with someone like Julie Menack (above). That said, I see a lot of excitement from GCMs about tech products but not much adoption.

I have been an affiliate member of NAPGCM for several years now and have to say that this organization is the most welcoming to vendors of ANY professional organization I work with. If you are committed to relationship marketing and have a national service area, I highly recommend becoming a member and participating on the listserve. True, you cannot direct sell. However, I am frequently answering tech questions and use the listserve as an opportunity to teach. I am rewarded many times over at the national conference when people come up to my booth and compliment me on my intelligent and helpful input. We then engage in an in-person dialogue and frequently they become clients. If you need to strictly measure ROI for every hour you spend and to have it yield within the first few months, this may not be the venue for you. But if you are genuine in your desire to help, they are an intelligent and compassionate group and the investment over time has been both fruitful and gratifying, personally and professionally.

This is a great topic for discussion. I'm so glad that Laurie is doing this survey of care management and home care and home health care professionals.

I am a certified GCM who specializes in technology for aging in place and have given presentations on technology for aging in place at a number of conferences (including with Laurie and Susan at ASA last year), professional organizations (care management, fiduciary, discharge planner and elder services provider groups), inservices to care management and home care companies, and wrote the chapter on technology in the Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, 3rd edition. Enough about me...

First of all, the good news is that care management is starting to implement technology. This is evidenced by a few of the larger care management organizations: LivIndependa (LivHome partnering with Independa) and SeniorBridge implementing telehealth and electronic medical records for their clients. Most care managers, however, operate smaller practices. We evaluate our clients' needs and create care plans - for caring for all aspects of our clients' health and well being.

Technology should be addressed by all of the elements of a care plan: assessment, product recommendation, implementation and training, and monitoring. These steps are the key: helping a care manager select the technology based upon their specific client's assessed needs (the fact sheet idea is excellent) and then having clear instructions or someone to assist with installation, training, and monitoring. Some ideas on this were presented in a blog piece that I did a year or so ago in this forum:

As Susan said so eloquently, support for the products after they are installed is critical. Care managers take the responsibility to make sure that the products work and so need to either make it work themselves or team up with someone who will do it for them. I have a few suggestions. Find the GCMs who ARE wanting to deploy technology and train other GCMs and make it easier for them. Provide free demo units of your product, provide free training or a utube recording on how to set up your product, set up training webinars, come to our conferences, work with a consultant to figure out how best to position your product, etc.

One way that the readers of Aging in Place Technology Watch can integrate with care managers: The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) ( Western Regional Conference, which will be in Santa Rosa on Nov. 1 and 2 of 2012 will be having a "Tech Zone" area in the vendor booths. This will be an area where technology vendors, integrators, and technology for aging in place consultants can all be in one place to demo and explain their products to the top care managers in our region (made up of 13 states). This is a great opportunity to share your expertise with the care management community and is a way that the care management community is showing their interest in technology. Please take us up on this offer and come to this conference! There is a 10% discount for early sign-up.

Feel free to contact me if you'd like to discuss opportunities for the conference or anything else about care management and technology.

Julie Menack
Care Manager, Private Fiduciary, and Technology for Aging in Place Consultant
(510) 338-3178

Compassionate Care + Technology = Increased Independence

Reposted from a blog by Phyllis Brostoff:

Ten Reasons why you need a Geriatric Care Manager



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