Living far away from senior loved ones can make the need for help at home easier to overlook. As a matter of fact, many adult children of older parents never even realize that Mom and Dad need assistance until they come home for a visit or spend a longer period of time together during the course of the holiday season. If you are a family caregiver who lives far apart from your older loved ones, it ends up being that much more necessary to have a plan in place for crises and care.
The Burlington elder team at Advanced Home Health Care, also servicing the surrounding areas, have developed these helpful strategies to assist in preparing for long distance caregiving.
Plan in Advance
When you are not able to just drive across town to assist, it is imperative to have family dialogues about the “what ifs” that could possibly arise with your loved ones, like:
- Living situation preferences based on severity and who is involved – consider some situations for debate; for instance, a fractured hip requiring a rehab stay.
- How will you identify when “it’s time” to make a change? What would this look like?
- Monetary matters in providing care, like how much work can family members afford to miss? What outside financial support may be obtainable?
- Advance directives for decision-making: make certain all is in order and retain a copy for yourself.
Evaluate Along the Way
When you can’t see your loved ones each day, it can be tempting to want to neglect the often uncomfortable business of evaluating health and wellbeing in favor of simply enjoying each other’s company, but it’s essential to routinely take into consideration and assess how your senior loved ones are really doing.
- Identify the RN who is working with your loved ones’ physician and stay in communication with that person.
- Be sure there is a HIPAA Release of Information Form on file at all of your parents’ physicians’ offices so you can talk openly with the medical professionals, and make sure you have one for yourself.
- Have routine telephone contact with your senior loved ones to check in and help them solve any problems.
- Maintain a list of any informal local resources: neighbors, friends, and other family members who can be part of your aging parents’ network of support. Stay in touch with that network and let them know how to contact you and that you encourage their calls.
Establish When to Travel and When to Stay Home
Issues are certain to develop, perhaps at a moment’s notice. You can’t travel for every concern, so decide in advance when you will travel and when you will need to utilize other resources to offer help.
- Ask if this is a true medical or care emergency. As one part (not all) of your decision-making, ask the doctor, social worker, or nurse for more detailed information and his/her suggestion on whether you should travel in.
- Could someone else locally take care of the issue at hand or eyeball the situation for you?
- It’s fine to go there just to put your mind at ease as well. If staying home and being concerned is going to be less effective for you, then perhaps you should go.
Consider Using Advanced Home Health Care
In-home senior care can not only provide exceptional care for older adults, it can also give long distance family members a greater sense of peace and connection. At Advanced Home Health Care, our professional care providers have specialized training and can:
- Evaluate the circumstances
- Identify problems, gaps, strengths and resources
- Track health, activity, nutrition, etc.
- Screen and arrange for other services and support
- Coordinate with financial, legal and medical providers
- Communicate regularly with family members
- And much more