Why long distance

We lived over a thousand miles from our parents, and it was a challenge managing their care from such a long distance. The biggest challenge we faced involved working with caregivers. Reflecting on that experience, this blog post presents some ideas to help you think through managing this challenge if you are in a similar situation, whether you are a few miles or across the country from your parents.

Many times, as children move for careers and or for their families, it is difficult for them to uproot and move back to care for a parent. This situation adds a level of tension or stress when mom or dad slows down and needs care because none of the children live in the same area with their parents.

Also, many parents are unwilling to move from their homes either to live with a child or live nearby. After all, this is their home, and that’s where they want to live out their remaining days. For those who select assisted living as an option, it makes the transition much easier for family members. If assisted living is not an option for your parents, the following ideas may be helpful in coordinating the care your parent(s) need.

Challenges and considerations

The best place to start is by spending time with your parent(s) to understand their needs fully. Many times when we are away from home for a while, we do not realize what our parents need because so much has changed since we lived at home.

It may be helpful to pull out that Ipad or smartphone and take a few notes. Evaluate the following:

·      What is their typical daily schedule?

·      How often do they take a bath, or is this something they need help with?

·      What is their current health situation? Do they have underlying health conditions?

·      Are there memory issues?

·      How is their mobility? Do they need assistance with mobility?

·      Are they incontinent?

·      How much are they able to care for themselves?

·      Are they taking medications? Are they taking these consistently?

·      Are they currently driving? Should they be?

·      How are they acquiring their supplies?

·      Are they paying bills consistently and on time?

·      What are their thoughts about receiving care? Are they open or reluctant?

Getting answers to these questions will provide you with a good picture of the kind of help you may need for your parent. Some of these questions you may be able to ask and get a straight answer; others you may have to observe, investigate or read between the lines.

Crafting their care plan

Finding answers to the questions in the previous paragraph will provide you with a good idea of their care need. For some, the results will be on the milder end of the spectrum, while for others, the need will be severe.

Taking notes, as encouraged earlier, will be helpful in documenting and crafting a care plan. The care plan is simply an outline of what needs to be done on a daily or weekly basis, including guidance on how to complete some of those tasks. This information is needed to hire a care team, whether you are hiring that care team through an agency or conducting a private hire. If you are living out of town, it is less hassle to hire an agency that will place and manage the caregivers.

Do your due diligence as you recruit a senior care agency. Use the information from your notes and care plan outline to interview the folks from the agency. Go through the most important elements from your notes and ask them how they would handle each of those issues. Once you have selected the agency, keep the following in mind:

·      Encourage the agency to place someone whose personality won’t clash with your parent

·      Establish the standards of care you desire

·      Enquire how they will ensure the standards are met

·      Establish a schedule (at least weekly) to receive care notes to see how the care is going

·      When you are able to, make unannounced visits

As you work through this entire process, communication with your parent(s) is essential. Often, they may be reluctant to get help, especially if the care needs are not severe. At this stage, a little help can go a long way. Many times what we see is that care in the milder stage is rejected, and then the person falls and is injured and needs around-the-clock care.

With a caregiving program established that you are comfortable with, enjoy the time you have with your parent, whether calling or visiting. Relish in old memories and create new ones.