Providing care for an aging in place elderly parent is difficult and time-consuming under any circumstances. But when an adult child lives several hours away, those long-distance caregiving responsibilities can push their stress level to the breaking point.
Long-distance caregivers oftentimes experience feelings of guilt or worry that result in many sleepless nights. Effectively coordinating an at-home parent’s long-distance care isn’t easy, but it is possible. To help you develop a more effective long-distance caregiving plan, follow these guidelines.
Forms of Long-Distance Caregiving
You can provide several different forms of long-distance caregiving depending on your parent’s needs. Here are some of the more common ones:
- Emotional support and encouragement
- Overseeing their medical bills, health insurance and medical records
- Helping them manage their finances
- Coordinating care with medical providers and in-home caregivers
- Helping them maintain their home and property
- Creating a safer home environment
- Accompany them to important medical appointments
Once you’ve established which of these items your mom or dad needs assistance with, it’s time to form an actual “care team” to ensure they get the nurturing they deserve.
Building a Care Team
After first obtaining your parent’s approval, reach out to medical professionals that they’re comfortable with about joining your care team. Continue building its ranks by contacting other potential members from this list:
- Other family members
- Trusted friends
- Community service volunteers
Once all your group members are in place, start communicating regularly with them via social media video chats on Facebook or Skype. Use the first session to discuss your parent’s needs, how the various members could be of service, and to answer any questions they might have. Create a list of time-sensitive caregiving tasks for each team member to complete. Then, continue monitoring the team’s progress by scheduling weekly follow-up chats.
Your Role on the Caregiving Team
In addition to coordinating the team’s efforts and monitoring progress, there are other long-distance caregiving steps you can take to ensure your parent’s health and wellbeing, including:
Keep in Touch with Their Medical Providers
This will require your loved one’s permission in the form of a signed release. Once that’s done, keep in touch with their doctors and other healthcare providers so that you stay informed about any changes to your parent’s health or medical care. WebMD also recommends logging into a senior’s online medical records periodically to view test results, medications they’re on, and upcoming appointments.
Set Aside Time to Physically Visit
This may be hard to do with your own household to manage, but plan trips every few months to visit your loved one in person. While there, you can determine if they’re getting the care they need, and monitor their physical appearance and home environment. A good time to plan a face-to-face is when you can also join them for an important doctor’s appointment while there.
Look for Warning Signs
While in the home, keep an eye out for warning signs, like your parent’s ability to keep driving, their personal hygiene, whether they’re eating well, paying their bills on time, etc. When traveling isn’t feasible, stay in touch frequently through phone calls, social media, email or video chats.
Plan for Emergencies
No matter how hard your care team tries, the aging process will continue. Set aside some vacation time and money just in case you need to make an emergency trip to see mom or dad. You can also check with your employer about unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Become a Durable Power-of-Attorney
If mom keeps forgetting to pay her bills because of dementia, or dad is confused about making a medical decision, offer your services as a durable Power-of-Attorney (POA). This will allow you to step in and handle their legal, medical and financial decisions once your parent is no longer able to for physical or mental reasons.
Good long-distance caregiver resources that are available online include your local Area Agency on Aging (www.n4a.org), Family Caregiver Alliance (www.caregiver.org) or the National Institute on Aging (www.nia.nih.gov).
Hire a Professional In-Home Senior Caregiver Instead
Providing long-distance caregiving for an aging in place parent can feel overwhelming at times. When you need a hand, call the professionals at First In Care. Our home care agency is fully licensed for your loved one’s protection, and all our in-home caregivers are highly trained to keep your loved one aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. While in the home, our carefully screened aides can perform services including light housework, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, transportation and companionship.
And, with a focus on improving your senior’s quality of life, dignity and self-esteem, all our family trusted services can be flexibly tailored in an affordable package to put your mind at ease. For more information about First In Care, or to schedule a FREE in-home care consultation for a senior in Manatee County, FL, please visit: www.firstincare.com now!