This discussion about long distance care giving is brought to you by Genworth Financial and Brandfluential but all opinions expressed are my own.
My grandmother is 93 years old and up until a few years ago she was quite active and independent. She was the type of grandmother who went on trips to the casino rather than baking cookies and had loads of energy. Age and 2 broken hips have slowed her down quite a bit and last year my parents finally had to make the decision to put her in a nursing home. It was a hard decision for them to make, especially since they live 4 hours away from her and wouldn’t be able to spend much time visiting with her. The whole situation has gotten me thinking about what *I* am going to do when my parents get too old to live on their own. I live a 2 days drive from them! My ability to help them out when they need it is going to be very limited. Long distance care giving is going to be a reality in the next 10 years or so and I thought I would start looking into what can be done when the caregiver lives far away from the person who needs assistance.
Tips for Long Distance Care Giving
Go high tech: Consider teaching your parents how to use Skype or a similar video phone call service. I know this is intimidating for some elderly people…my mom can barely figure out the VCR! However, actually SEEING the person you are talking to will go a long way towards making sure they are healthy and the house is in good order.
Make friends with the neighbors: Talk to your parent’s neighbors, friends, and nearby family members. Ask someone to stop in and check on your parents occasionally and let you know how they are doing. This is helpful for you but also makes the elderly a bit happier when they have company to chat with.
Look into power of attorney: If your parents are getting older you may want to talk to a lawyer about gaining power of attorney. In an emergency situation you may need to make decisions regarding their health or finances and this can be difficult if you do not have legal authority to do this.
Get them organized: As we get older we get more forgetful and it is sometimes hard for the elderly to remember important things like phone numbers and medicine schedules. Get a monthly pill organizer and have someone help them sort their prescriptions. Type up a list of important phone numbers in large print and put it on the refrigerator. Make sure there is a notebook and pencil by the phone for taking down messages.
Hire someone to help: When the cleaning got to be too much for my grandmother, she hired a friend to come and do it once a month. Look into having someone come and do the cooking and cleaning for your elderly parents. While you would like to be the one doing the helping, long term care giving means that you will need to rely on others to help out when you can’t be there.
Having parents that live far away can be stressful as they start to age. We want to be there for them the way they were there for us as we grew up but jobs and family commitments often make this impossible. Look into long term care giving NOW and start planning before you actually need to worry about it. Knowing how you will handle things in the future and talking to your elderly parents about it will make decisions easier when they finally have to be made.
Disclaimer: This discussion about long distance care giving is brought to you by Genworth Financial and Brandfluential but all opinions expressed are my own.