So, your elderly parent(s) lives over three hours from you and you’re more than a bit worried about their well-being. Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. 34 million Americans are the primary caregivers for an elderly parent and, of that number, over 5 million live more than an hour away. Subsequently, an entire industry has become centered around, not just elderly care, but long-distance elderly care due to the fact it presents its own set of challenges for both caregiver and care recipient alike.
The top priority in this special type of long-distance relationship is, of course, ensuring your relative receives the proper care and to do so with the least amount of stress on you and/or your own family. The vast majority of long-distance caregivers do, in fact, have families and careers of their own that they need to care for simultaneously, and attempting to tend to a career, your own family and an elderly relative can create mountains of stress. And since we here at MagicKitchem seek to alleviate stress, here are some tips for all you long-distance caregivers out there.
- Take care of yourself. No, that’s not a typo. How can you care for elderly parents if you yourself needs care as well? If you’ve read my previous posts, you know the drill here. Eat right, try to get some exercise, find your own personal stress relievers, and ensure you visit YOUR doctor on a regular basis.
- Enlist as much help as humanly and financially possible. If you and/or your elderly relative can afford an in-home care provider or geriatric care manager…get one. If not, impose upon, beg, guilt-trip or buy off (whatever works best) other family members, friends and/or neighbors to help as much as they are able. Have them visit, provide home and yard maintenance, get your relative out of the house, and anything else they’re willing to do to assist.
- Gather all important documents in one place and keep them readily accessible. This includes all financial, medical, insurance and legal documents you believe are important, to include social security numbers, medications required, medical history, powers of attorney, etc.
- Stay in touch. And there are plenty of ways, with the internet machine, to do so. Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks…not that I’m referring to your dear old mother as a dog…it’s just an idiom that means old folks can learn new things…you get the idea, right? Anyway, both my parents, who are well into their seventies, recently learned how to Facetime and now they won’t leave their grandkids alone. And if my parents can learn this amazing feat, so can yours. If they still prefer the old-fashioned land-line phone, then use it, but at least introduce them to Skype, Snapchat, etc. You never know.
- Keep a list of trusted contractors if your relative still maintains their own home. Inevitably, your folks are going to need some form of home repairs or upgrades, and having a contractor or handyman you can trust can be invaluable.
- Look into a meal delivery service, like…wait for it…com! Many elderly folks require a special diet and we provide for just about every need, whether it’s low sodium, fat, and/or carb; diabetic, dialysis, or renal-friendly; or gluten free, we’ve got you (and your elderly relatives) covered. Remember, you’re trying to provide all the necessary care with minimal stress, and we are the experts at stress relief as it applies to ensuring the people you care for are eating properly.
- Check out these online services.
- Eldercare locator. This site will locate all the elder care service providers near your relatives. http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx
- Area Agency on Aging. Each local Agency on Aging can provide you with a suite of services on things such as caregiver support, information and referral, insurance counseling, nutrition, transportation, and financial advice within a specific area. https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/longtermcare/find_aging_agencies_adrc_aaa.html
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. As the name implies, this site can assist you in locating a reputable elder law attorney on a local basis. https://www.naela.org/
- Family Caregiver Alliance. This site is a one-stop shop for those caring for the elderly. It also offers localized assistance and advice. https://www.caregiver.org/
- National Council on Aging Benefits Checkup. This site can help you determine if your elderly relative is eligible for state and/or federal assistance programs. https://www.benefitscheckup.org/
- National Volunteer Caregiving Network. The NVCN is a network of volunteer caregiving service providers with hundreds of branches throughout the U.S. http://www.nvcnetwork.org/
Caring for a loved one that lives across the state or country can indeed be a challenge. Hopefully, this post lessened that challenge just a bit. Just remember, don’t be afraid to ask others for help and provide care for yourself as well!