Long distance caregiving for an older family member can make it very hard to know if he or she is really ok, or if additional help is necessary. In fact, many adult children of senior parents don’t even realize their parents need help until they visit them during a holiday break or vacation. If you are an adult child living at a distance from your senior parents, it’s important to have a plan in place for emergencies and the potential for care needed.
The New Jersey home care professionals at Well-Being Home Care have put together the following tips:
Be Organized in Advance
When you can’t easily drive across town to assist an older loved one, it’s crucial to hold family discussions regarding the “What Ifs” that might occur, such as:
- Living preferences based on who may be able to help and a possible injury or illness. Role play some scenarios; for example, a fall resulting in a broken hip which may require rehabilitative care.
- How will it be determined that “it’s time” for a change? What might that be like?
- Financial cost for caregiving, such as how much time family members can afford to miss from work for caregiving. Are there other financial resources that might be available?
- Advance directives for making difficult choices: it is important that all paperwork is in order, and be sure to keep a copy with you.
Be Sure to Assess Health Regularly
When you live far away from your parents, it may seem like a good idea to delay the uncomfortable task of assessing their health and well-being, choosing to instead focus on enjoying time spent with each other. Nevertheless, it is important to evaluate these things on a regular basis.
- Obtain the name and contact information for the nurse working with your parent’s primary care physician, and maintain communication with this nurse.
- Make certain there is a signed HIPAA Release of Information Form filed at every doctor’s office your parents go to, so you can communicate freely with each doctor. Be sure to have a copy for yourself.
- Call your senior parents regularly to check in and help them resolve or prevent any problems.
- Keep a list of other possible resources in your parent’s neighborhood: neighbors, church friends, other local family members who can be part of the support network. Be sure each of these people know how to reach you also.
Decide in Advance for What Issues You Will Travel to Your Parents
Troubling issues are bound to occur, and they could come at a moment’s notice. It’s not really feasible to travel home for every single issue, so decide in advance when you will travel and when to use other resources for assistance.
- Determine if this is a real medical or care crisis. As part of your decision-making, consult your parent’s doctor, social worker, or nurse for information and to get their opinions on whether or not you should be there in person.
- Is someone local available who can take care of the problem, or check out the situation?
- It’s perfectly ok if you need to visit just to put your mind at ease. If remaining at home will just cause worries, then it may be best to go.
Well-Being Home Care Can Help
A personal home caregiver, such as Well-Being Home Care provides, can provide long-distance family members with a greater sense of peace and reassurance. Our specially trained and experienced New Jersey caregivers:
- Provide an assessment
- Identify problems and resources that can assist
- Keep an eye on your loved one’s overall health, activity levels, nutrition, etc.
- Arrange for additional services when needed
- Coordinate with your loved one’s financial, legal and medical providers
- Communicate regularly with family members
- And much more
If you have a senior loved one in need of home care in Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Morris or Union County in New Jersey, call on Well-Being Home Care at 800.413.0013. We provide better health through better care.