Caring for Your Aging Parents Long Distance
Realizing that our parents are getting older is a hard fact of life. We think of our parents as being infallible and always being there for us. But what happens when there are signs that our parents are getting frail or are starting to lose their memory? When we have to start being there for them and we live an hour away or maybe in a different state, how do we take care of them? We will have to become a “long distance caregiver.” So how do we handle this challenge of being a caregiver from long distance?
What you will need to know
To be able to care for a parent long distance, there is some critical information that needs to be gathered into one place. Your parents will need to tell you where to find important records, any email addresses or other contact information. Also gather any banking information, attorney information and doctor contacts so the information is on hand for easy access. Too, consider getting from your parents a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management before a health condition comes up which makes it impossible to carry out their wishes.
How to take care of your parents long distance
Taking care of your parents long distance can be a unique challenge all in its own. However, there is help. You can coordinate with a home care provider who will come in and help with house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, appointments and personal care. You can take over managing medical bills and household bills if you think your parents are having issues with remembering when bills are due. You can schedule conference calls with your parents’ doctors and other health care providers so as to keep updated on any medical issues or changes. You will have to have your parents sign a medical release allowing you access to that information though. Keep a copy in your files for backup of this and other important information too in case there are any questions or problems.
Also, visit your parents when you can and if you have vacation time, stay with your parents to see how they’re doing. This also gives the primary caretaker time off if it’s another family member. When you are visiting, take notice if your parents are having any difficulty with daily tasks. Are they eating regularly? What about driving; are you comfortable with them behind the wheel? Talk to the home care provider or primary caretaker about any changes which may have taken place. If there are changes, then take action where you think it’s needed. Maybe they will need to have home care services come in more frequently to make meals or assist with personal grooming.
Being a long distance caregiver isn’t easy, and sometimes we may feel guilty because we don’t live closer. Just keep in mind that you’re doing the best you can do by providing the best care you’re capable of. By keeping in touch with family, friends and neighbors for information; plus keeping up with the input from the home care provider though, you are doing what needs to be done.