When expert advice is needed in assessing what kind of care a boomer’s elderly parent or relative needs, financial advisors offer simple but important advice: Seek an expert.

In the case of determining whether nursing home, assisted living or home care is appropriate, the expert that financial advisors say needs to be sought out is a geriatric care manager.

“The great challenge for those with aging parents is assessing the degree of functioning or lack of function the parent may be experiencing,” says Kevin Gahagan, a certified financial planner with Mosaic Financial Partners, San Francisco.

But “it is beyond the capabilities of most children–and virtually all advisors–to assess personal capacity or impairment,” he says.

Planners can take a proactive role in helping a client locate a professional such as a CPA, insurance professional or an attorney, Gahagan says, and the same is true of a geriatric specialist.

Potential sources of geriatric specialists, he says, are local estate planning councils and firms. For instance, he says, Mosaic has 3 firms that it works with in the San Francisco area. “Philosophically, we think that we can be a resource in this area, although not all planners and firms feel the same way,” he adds.

Karen Eddy, a certified financial planner with Eddy Financial Planning, San Diego, notes that she has referred clients to geriatric care managers. In one case, she says, she referred a friend who was “struggling with helping her elderly sister and brother-in-law.” The geriatric care manager, Eddy says, was able to find a placement for the brother-in-law who was deteriorating with Parkinson’s disease and provide the friend and her sister with support throughout the process.

A geriatric counselor will assess the situation, says Sharon Luker, a certified financial planner and holder of a certified long term care and certified senior advisor designations with LTC Planning Consultants, Plano, Texas.

According to Luker, if a person has a long term care policy, then it is standard to cover the cost of a geriatric care manager. Depending on the contract and the carrier, she continues, either one will be provided or money will be provided to pay for one.

If a person has an LTC policy, contacting the company to obtain the services of a geriatric case manager is important for another reason, Luker says. The notification that a geriatric counselor is needed and that there may be a long term care event can start the clock ticking on when benefits can start to be paid under that contract, she explains.

Eddy says is one resource for families who are trying to find a geriatric manager.

This website of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, Tucson, Ariz., offers boomers features such as a list of questions to ask when looking for a geriatric care manager. (See box.)

The website also addresses issues to cover once a care manager is found.