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Coping with the challenges associated with caring for the aging has been made easier with the help of ElderCare Consult, a professional geriatric care management company.

Lois Brandriet, a nurse gerontologist, started ElderCare Consult after she observed an increasing need in the community. Many of her co-workers in the health-care industry didn't know where in Utah Valley to go for help."Some of my nursing colleagues were saying, `My mother needs some kind of nursing home, but I don't know where to go,' " Brandriet said. "It happened a number of times and I realized if nurses didn't know, health-care consumers may not know."

Geriatric care management, a relatively new service in the United States, continues to grow and, according to Brandriet, will likely expand as the baby boomer generation continues to age.

ElderCare Consult is committed to meeting the health-care needs of older adults. "With the health-care system getting so complex it's hard to know where a loved one fits," Brandriet said.

Services at ElderCare include needs assessment, education, counseling, care management, financial management, choosing a nursing home, information and referral service.

ElderCare Consult also serves professionals and nursing facilities with educational programs and consultation services.

Although ElderCare is a fee-for-services business and is not covered by third-party payers, Brandriet said clients will save money in the long run. ElderCare helps cut through the red tape and extensive paperwork and through assessment can help family members determine what would be best for the patient from the beginning.

"We can find the best care for the least amount of money," she said. "I sensed this need out in the community. As funding cuts get larger, it will be harder to find care providers."

Example of specific services include maximizing resources so that the older adult can function independently at home; assessment on a regular, intermittent basis; or choosing a retirement or nursing home. Services are also provided, and may be especially important, when family members from outside the valley attempt to manage care for an elderly loved one in Utah.

Brandriet has a doctorate in gerontological nursing; certification as a clinical nurse specialist in gerontological nursing; and membership in the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. Her nursing experience includes providing or managing patient care since 1977; arranging for support services needed by elderly patients being discharged from the hospital; and educating student nurses at Weber State and Brigham Young universities.

For more information about ElderCare Consult and its services call 756-2800.