Children living further than an hour away from an aging parent that needs help are considered “long-distance caregivers”. The National Institute on Aging estimates as many as 7 million Americans are actually long-distance caregivers.
The tasks (finances, scheduling doctor appointments and helping manage household chores) long-distance caregivers help with can be challenging for adult children living in the same community, but are even more difficult when distance is factored in. They frequently need to travel, take time off of work, or use vacation days to help their parent in-person.
Certain problems can be harder to deal with being so far away, like providing companionship, responding to medical emergencies (like an illness or a fall), transportation to appointments, and helping with meal preparation.
While there are challenges along the way, long-distance caregiving can be successfully accomplished with care, planning and some support along the way.
Below are some tips on how to be a long-distance caregiver:
Get legal documents in order.
Make sure legal documents like a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management are prepared before there is a need (before your parent is not capable of making these decisions).
Check-in via a phone call or email daily if you can. Skype video calls are a good option as well—you’ll be able to see their face and hear their voice. Use the daily check-ins to monitor medications, socialization and their general health.
Hire licensed local caregivers.
Having licensed caregivers check-in with your parent (daily or weekly) can provide great peace of mind. They offer companionship, monitor medication intake and help with transportation issues. Professional caregivers can also report any changes they observe related to your parent’s health and safety.
Read testimonials, ask for references, do your research. In the state of Washington, all caregivers must be licensed. Make sure whomever you are hiring is by checking this website. Here are some other helpful tips on hiring the right caregiver.
Have a plan.
Outline the major responsibilities involved in your parent’s care and develop a system to keep everything organized–including items like regular doctor’s appointments, bills and account information and the names of those responsible for your loved ones care. If you choose to hire a local caregiver, make sure they have this information, along with emergency contact info (of doctors & family) in case it is needed.
Understand that plans can change.
The level of care loved ones need often progresses. Family caregivers, whether local or long-distance, should be prepared to adjust plans they have put in place.
Starting the long-distance caregiving journey with a bit of help from local friends and neighbors can work, but as time rolls by health and safety risks may increase—the level of care needed becomes too great for those friends and neighbors.
When this happens, it’s important to be prepared with options, like hiring caregivers or moving your parents to an assisted living situation.
Take My Hand At-Home Care is here to help! We are a locally owned business that is registered with the Washington State Department of Health–all of our caregivers are certified.
Contact us today to learn about the affordable home care services provided in Whatcom County.