Six Ways to Help Caregiving for an Aging Parent From Afar

An aging parent ways heavy on the heart, mind, and pocketbook. Even more so when caring for an aging parent from a distance. The National Institute on Aging estimates that there may be as many as seven million people providing long-distance care in the United States. The difficulty caregiving for parents from afar should not be underestimated. In this article you will discover options to assist the heavy burden of caring for a loved one from a distance.

Consider moving Mom or Dad in with you. First, consider your parent’s desire to stay in their home or community, their health situation and the logistics of your home. While it will likely be less expensive, it may not be realistic. Take the time to determine the cost differences and potential expenses that the arrangement would require. If your parent is going to remain in his or her home, ensure it is a senior-friendly and safe environment to eliminate falls or injuries.

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Get the facts. Learn all that you can about your parent’s circumstances and resources. Research their health issues, prescription medications, insurance coverage and finances. At least one family member must have written permission to access medical and financial documents and accounts.

Communicate. Frequently talk to your parent and proactively manage health and financial issues. The more you speak with them about day-to-day activities, the more you will learn about their well-being: take note of forgetfulness, confusion, or signs of stress that make them vulnerable to be taken advantage of. Arrange conference calls with other members of your family, your parent’s medical professionals, in-home care workers, financial advisor and attorneys.

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Budget for your travel. You will need to see your parent in person to really understand the state of their health. A visual evaluation of their physical condition, home and paperwork is the only way to perceive what you are both up against.  Plan regular trips in advance and account for the additional expenses in your budget.

Choose the appropriate primary caregiver and services.  If you have siblings it is important to discuss and decide who will take the lead on various aspects of physical and financial responsibilities. These situations can cause friction, so remain open and revisit your choices often. If your parent is at home, you may want to seek in-home care. Thoroughly review financial resources and long-term care policies to determine how much care your parent can afford and how much your family members will have to contribute to meet the demand.

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Learn about sources of financial help. Your parent(s) may be eligible for sources of financial assistance. Research the types of aid available and help your parents apply. Start with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and SHIP — the State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program. If your parent is a veteran, he or she may be eligible for additional benefits.

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