“My parents live too far away for me to care for them personally, so how can I make sure they have the help they need to age in place when I’m not close by to help?”
First, put your mind at ease; you are in good company. Many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers live so far away from their parents that caring for them is exhausting and oftentimes impossible. The good news is that many more tips for long-distance care and resources exist today than 10 years ago.
Consider breaking down the tasks of taking care of parents, older relatives, or family friends from a distance into the following three steps.
- Collect Important Information
- Investigate local resources
- Hire the help you need
Collect Important Information
- Medical records
- A list of medications they take
- Contact information of all doctors
- Name and phone number of their pharmacy
- A list of insurance policies, the carriers, and account numbers
- Company names and phone numbers for all utilities, including electric, phone, cable, and internet
- A list of all assets and debts (include dollar values)
- Yearly or monthly income
- Yearly or monthly expenses
- A statement of net worth
- Information on bank accounts, other financial holdings, and credit cards
- Relevant legal documents your loved one has or wants to create (i.e., wills, advance directives, trusts, powers of attorney).
- Location of important documents (i.e., birth certificates, the deed to home).
- Social Security numbers
Investigate local resources:
- Elder Care Directory – To discover state & local resources, local food & nutrition programs, caregiver assistant services, legal aid, and visitation and companionship programs
- National Council on Aging – To help you meet the challenges of aging. Find programs and best practices to better serve older adults in your community. Use our online tools and tips to stay healthy and economically secure. Learn the latest in aging policy and see how to speak up for seniors in need
Hire the help you need:
- Aging Life Care/geriatric care management (Aging Life Care Association)
- Assessment & monitoring
- Planning and problem-solving
- Education and advocacy
- Family caregiver coaching
- Long distance caregiving
- National Academy of Elder Law (NAELA)
- Legal documents; durable power of attorney, both health and asset management
Now that you have a template for taking care of providing care from afar take a deep breath, and remember that everyone’s situation is different. You can be successful at taking care of loved ones from a distance without feeling guilty if you stay organized and take advantage of available resources.
Here are 5 additional strategies to keep in mind when caring for someone long distance.
- Find a local coordinator: If you can’t be present, it’s good to have someone in the area who you can call on to provide support if need be. This is often a trusted friend or relative. Alternatively, you could seek the help of a professional, such as the team at Georgetown Home Care, to provide senior care services.
- Make a note of additional support needed: When you visit your loved ones or have conversations with them, be sure to note extra help that might be needed or updates to their documents.
Promote communication: With distance, the best way to know what’s taking place from afar is communication. If you can’t see each other, the next best thing is other communication forms, whether it’s a phone call, text message, or FaceTime. This might mean teaching your loved one how to use the newest technology, but it can help maintain extended distance care.