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The Dangers of Long Distance Caregiving

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We all know someone who is living a great distance from his or her parents. When we are young, we do not think much about moving far away to pursue work or start a family, but as we age this distance can put quite a strain on the adult children of an aging parent.

As a normal aspect of aging our parents start to need more help with daily tasks. The children call in to check in with mom or dad and to make sure they are managing well. Mom and dad will typically say that they are fine and everything is going well. And being far away the children may be forced to take the parent’s word for it.

But the reality may be far different. Mom may be missing doctors’ appointments or not following up with a specialist. The trash may be mounting up. The fridge and cupboards may be stocked with foods that have gone well past their expiration dates.  Your parent may be dehydrated because its been warm lately, or she may be experiencing urinary tract infections that go unmentioned. Mom or dad may be bumping curbs with their cars more often. They may have fallen but don’t want to tell you about that.  The list of things to worry about as an adult child caregiver is long and unrelenting.

So what can be done to make sure that mom and dad are, in fact, doing well and that they are safe and healthy?

Long distance caregivers need an experienced advocate who is local and can help mom and dad avoid any unnecessary bumps in the road. That is what I do. I’m an Elder Care Coordinator.

I work with my aging clients and their families to put safeguards in place to protect mom and dad and reduce the burdens on the caregiver children. This allows the family to be family again and focus their time on positive things and enjoy their phone calls and visits once again.

I meet with the aging parent and the people involved in his or her care and establish realistic goals and expectations. I create a care plan which enables the aging parent to remain safely and independently in the home for as long as possible. I monitor the plan to make sure it is carried out properly. I help with communication with doctor’s offices and transportation to ensure that appointments are scheduled and attended. I organize in home services such as grocery shopping, light cooking and cleaning duties and assistance with bathing. I respond to any sudden changes in health and behavior.  And I provide the children with ongoing updates.

As Elder Care Coordinator I work as the point of contact for all the care services and monitor the ongoing effectiveness of the care plan. When the care plan is not meeting the client’s needs, I find out why is it not working and modify it as needed.

If your parent loses her ride to church on Sunday or to get together with friends for lunch on Tuesdays, I take this information into account and redesign the care plan to meet the social needs of your parent. If your parent needs more assistance in the home, I contact the home care provider to increase the hours with a second shift of help, or I contact a second company to meet the additional needs.

There are so many things that can go wrong when adult children live away from their parents. It is so difficult to monitor care from a distance. Because mom and dad don’t want their children to worry, they may say they are doing fine when actually they are  not. This can lead to unnecessary hospital stays from urinary tract infections, falls and breaks or sprains, medication errors and more. You and your parents need a local health care advocate – an Elder Care Coordinator – who can help keep mom home safely.

If you are trying to be a long-distance caregiver, and you want to talk about how an Elder Care Coordinator can help you and your family, I hope you will give me a call today. You can reach me at 1-800-401-4552 (ask for Kelsey), or by email at webmail@paelderlaw.com.