Five tips for long-distance caregiving
Living far away from aging parents can be very difficult for families. You may feel overwhelmed and wonder what you can do to help from a long distance standpoint. The following are some tips that may help to decrease your worries and help you feel more prepared.
- Consider having a family meeting via conference call or the web. Talk about the concerns each sibling is having with your parents' health, living environment and/or safety. Decide who can do what to help, establish a schedule and set goals. Consider asking your parents' friends or neighbors if they would be willing to help in small ways such as checking in periodically. They may be able to give insight into what is truly going on in the home. Hold a meeting with each other first, and then another with your parents after you are more organized with your concerns. One person should keep notes and provide each sibling with a copy.
- Organize your parents’ health and financial information. Include each parent’s diagnosis, medications, allergies, names/numbers/addresses of primary physician and any specialists, all family/friend/neighbor contact information, insurance information, pharmacy, copies of Durable Power of Attorney and/or Living Will (if no one is appointed immediately discuss this with your parents), medical equipment company contact information, home health care contact information and any special dietary needs. Have a copy of the financial Power of Attorney (if no one is appointed currently, discuss this with your parents), consider having one child on your parents’ bank account in case they become incapacitated.
- Contact your parents’ medical providers and ensure you are aware of their medical status and current recommendations from the physician. Research their diagnoses and medications so you are familiar with what your parents are going through and dealing with from a medical standpoint. Consider having someone accompany your parents to their medical appointments to help keep track of information.
- Depending on the needs, consider hiring extra help via a non-medical home care provider. Consider a life alert system. Contact their local senior center for more information on providers.
- Plan for emergencies such as having money set aside in case you need to make unexpected visits to help during an emergency.
I am a Licensed Social Worker and owner of Adult Comfort Care: A Person Centered in-home assisted living resource for seniors and their families.