In today’s world, it’s common for families and friends to be separated by great distances. At some point in their lives, your parents, grandparents or a loved one may need in-home care. Suddenly you are faced with the challenge of long distance caregiving. The best approach to dealing with long distance caregiving is to educate yourself and family and to prepare ahead of time.
Does My Loved One Need Care?
- Does your loved one need assistance with walking?
- Has their physical and/or emotional health been declining?
- Are they able to prepare nutritious daily meals?
- Are they able to shop for themselves?
- Are they able to manage their bills and financial responsibilities?
- Are they taking their medications on time?
- Are they still able to drive safely?
- Are they in need of companionship?
- Are they able to dress & groom themselves?
How Do I Prepare? Plan Ahead!
Discuss future care needs with your loved one & family members. Prepare the necessary legal and medical documents that may be necessary should an emergency arise. Form a local contact list of their medical professionals, hospitals, pharmacies and other medical facilities they might need.
Consider working with a local geriatric manager or Certified Senior Advisor. Most importantly, contact your loved one and, their medical professionals, friends, neighbors and other support systems that may already be in place. Establishing & maintaining relationships provides a comfort zone within the family.
Institutional Facilities vs. Their Home
Sometimes, nursing homes and retirement housing seem like the only options available for care. However, there can be significant emotional trauma when your loved one leaves their cherished home & familiar surroundings. Studies have shown that seniors thrive more when they remain in their homes and familiar communities with their friends and neighbors.
I feel guilty that I am not there for them.
Guilt is a natural emotion.
It’s frustrating to be separated by distance & trying to manage remotely. Reduce your anxiety & share the load with other family members. Know your strengths, your limitations and let others help.
If your loved one is dealing with a specific illness (Alzheimer’s, ALS, Cancer, Stroke. . .) contact the local association/support group. Use the services of a care manager, elderlaw attorney or Certified Senior Advisor.
Most importantly stay in contact with your loved one and their support group.
Establish periodic phone calls and visit as often as possible.
How do I choose a Home Care agency?
Home care agencies offer different levels of service. Choose an agency that can offer more than basic homemaker services. Eventually your loved one will require personal care services (assistance with dressing, bathing, hygiene). The agency you choose should be bonded, insured and licensed (not all states require home care licensing). Their caregivers should be experienced and screened including a criminal background check. You or your loved one should be able to meet with the caregiver before you agree to services. Choose an agency that complies with HIPAA.
How Do We Afford The Care They Need?
Since home care services are non-medical, they currently are not covered by Medicare. Home care services are generally paid individually or by long term care insurance. Often, funds are available from associations for care for their members who are afflicted with a specific disease. An excellent resource is the reverse mortgage. It allows your loved one access to funds from their home equity without touching their income producing investments. Veterans and their spouses may qualify for the Disability Pension for Aid and Attendance which provides funds for in-home care.