Caring for Someone Long Distance

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 often-times impossible. The good news is many more resources exist today than ten 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:

  1. Collect Important Information
  2. Investigate local resources
  3. Hire the help you need

Collect Important Information:

  • Medical
    • Medical records.
    • A list of medications they take.
    • Names and phone numbers of all doctors.
    • Name and phone number of their pharmacy.
  • Insurance
    • A list of insurance policies, the carriers and account numbers.
  • Utilities
    • Company names and phone numbers for all utilities, including electric, phone, cable and Internet.
  • Financial
    • 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.
  • Legal
    • 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, deed to home).
    • Social Security numbers

Investigate local resources:

  • Elder Care DirectoryDiscover state & local resources
    • State resources
    • Local food & nutrition programs
    • Caregiver assistant services
    • Legal Aid
    • Senior companion and friendly visitor program
  • National Council on AgingWe can help you meet the challenges of aging
    • Get 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 loved ones from a distance, take a deep breath and remember: everyone’s situation is different, and you can be successful at taking care of loved ones from a distance if you stay organized and take advantage of available resources.