Assisted Living agencies will often see an increase in phone calls from Long Distance Family Caregivers after the holidays. Of course, this is a time to take inventory of your parents health and it often convinces a family member that more help is needed. Many people realize after a visit or the holidays that their parent is unsafe living alone. Managing your mom or dad’s care in San Luis Obispo County from another state can be very challenging.
If you find yourself face to face with your parent, this is the best way to make an assessment. Unfortunately, most of the time a long-distance family caregiver has to have another person conduct an assessment for them. It is not uncommon to try and gather information by phone from doctors, nurses, or even friends and neighbors. Having a great phone relationship with their doctor is critical to your peace of mind. Of course, many professionals may not know your parents like you do, which can cause you to doubt the assessment.
Many long distant family caregivers feel guilty about not doing enough. When my mom was up in Washington, I would hear about my sister helping my mom go to the doctors, shop for her or do her yard work. I felt guilty. Now that she lives near me I have taken on the physical roles, but my sisters have picked up the slack with duties they can do from a distance.
Step 1: Create a Care Team
Simply sit down and identify the key people and what their strengths are.
-My older sister is a very organized person and she is in charge of the medical statements and any expenses that need to be paid for my mom’s account.
-With a background in special education, my younger sister is always suggesting better ways on how to stimulate my mom’s mind with photo’s and activities.
-I live nearby, so my wife and I visit my mom regularly and take bring her by the house for the occasional dinner with the grandkids.
-We have hired an independent caregiver through San Luis Obispo Caregivers to visit my mom three days a week. My mom enjoys her time with her “friend”. They go to lunch, go shopping or just have a few laughs. She has been a blessing to my family and takes the pressure off me to visit every day.
Of course, other members of the care team could include other family members, friends, neighbors, doctors, nurses, financial and social groups (like church). Just to name a few.
Step 2: Using technology
Using technology can be a great way of staying connected to your parent from a distance. I have worked with people who have set up security camera’s (Nanny Cam), movement sensors, alert pendent’s, iPad’s, automated medication dispenser, and of course deliveries from Amazon. Most of these technologies are designed to reduce falls or quickly notify someone if a fall has occurred.
Step 3: Work with a local consultant.
I often work with families looking for a caregiver or looking for a new living solution for their parents. It is important to trust the consultant you are working with and talk to them on the phone. Ideally, you can schedule a visit to visit some recommended assisted living communities or interview caregivers face to face. If not, we can provide information over the phone and set up one on one conversations with the care provider.
Do you have a plan? Most people say my mom want’s to stay in her home forever and this is not up for negotiation! I get it. In an ideal world that is what we all want. It is important to be realistic and understand your options. Know the factors of costs, medical conditions, the likelihood of a significant event and the rising costs of in-home care.
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