Tribute to Geri
As a social worker, Geri Sams valued giving choice to people; therefore, “options” were important. “Geri-Options” became not only the name of her professional practice, but also reflected the philosophy and value system ingrained in her professional service.
Geri Sams earned a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University School of Social Work in 1969. She had many years of experience as a hospital/medical social worker at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital working with children, adults, and seniors with chronic and acute health care challenges. She learned the art and value of teamwork, crisis management, resource linkage, advocacy for patients and their families, and the pain and fear associated with transitioning into new unexpected territories in life. While in New York, she became familiar with the then-unknown disease called Alzheimer’s. Thus began Geri’s long-time commitment to working with people and families devastated by this disease.
Geri moved to Texas in 1979 and began working at Denton State School (now the State Supported Living Center). She returned to the healthcare arena when she became a social worker at Lewisville Medical Center. She remained there until 1989, working as a medical social worker in discharge planning. She became increasingly involved with older people and their families about elders desiring to “age in place” at home rather than enter a nursing facility. She discovered many people do not plan ahead for the “crisis” of an unexpected diagnosis.
Her professional interest increasingly focused on helping families develop a pathway of care, arranging quality services for both the present and “down the road,” whether living at home or in an alternate living residence.
Thus Geri decided to launch Geri-Options Geriatric Care Management in 1991. Until her passing in 2018, she was an active volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association and co-founded Stepping Stones, a local support group for persons afflicted with dementia and their caregivers. Geri was a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) as well as a Certified Care Manager with the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA). During her professional career, Geri received numerous awards from NASW and the ALCA for her professional leadership. Her state, regional, and local involvements were recognized by the “Spirit” Award for her outstanding volunteer contributions to her community.