Caring from a Distance: Tips on How to Help Aging Loved Ones When You’re Not Around the Corner

Caring from a Distance: Tips on How to Help Aging Loved Ones When You’re Not Around the Corner

Many years ago, it was quite common for children to live in the same city they were born and raised in. They may have even decided to purchase a home in the same neighborhood where their parents still lived. Today, such a scenario is a relic of the past.

Many people do not live close to their parents and are scattered across states, and even countries. So you need to ask yourself this important question – when your parent’s health begins to fail, what will happen? Do you know who will care for them if they can’t take care of themselves? The purpose of this article is to give you some tips on how to best prepare for this possibility.

Sit Down and Talk with Your Parents About Long-Term Care

Courtesy of http://www.alz.org/care/images/photo_long_distance.jpgIt’s an awkward conversation, to be sure. You may not want to imagine your parents being mentally or physically incapable of taking care of themselves. Your parents may not want to think about such a scenario coming to fruition in the not-so-distant future. Nevertheless, you need to have this conversation and develop a plan of action. The temporary awkwardness is worth the payoff since having a plan in place will pay dividends if a parent becomes incapacitated. Knowing exactly what to do will save you time and unnecessary stress, and the same goes for your parents.

So what should be a part of this plan? Here are some key topics that should be included:

Contact information for your parents’ friends and neighbors.

This information is extremely important to have handy because, in many instances, a parent does not steadily decline with everyone in the family fully prepared for a smooth transition. Unfortunately, mental or physical incapacity is regularly brought on by a sudden and completely unexpected event like a stroke or heart attack. Additionally, it may be a slow decline that would not be noticeable to out of town helpers. Having the contact information of friends and neighbors who live closer to your parents is so critical. It gives you a local “second opinion” on how your parents are doing physically and mentally. For example, if you call a neighbor and they mention that your parent can’t remember their name anymore, it alerts you some action may be needed to help your loved one.

Research local in-home care managers

In the internet age, you can do substantial research about in-home care managers and nurses who are based close to where your parents reside. You could even conduct interviews via Skype or GoTo Meeting. It’s important to have some background information about these types of services because you may need to retain someone sooner rather than later, especially if a parent experiences a rapid, sudden decline. Enrolling the help of a geriatric care manager at this stage could really help by providing a lot of resources, and taking some of the legwork away from distant helpers.

Have a plan in place for how long-term care will be covered financially.

Do your parents have long-term disability insurance coverage? Do they have sufficient funds in a retirement account to cover large medical expenses? You need to have answers to these questions so the financial burden doesn’t ultimately fall on you or other family members. Keep in mind, the cost of long-term care is extremely high. If your parent needs to be moved to a nursing home, the average cost is $6235 per month, according to longtermcare.gov. If you wanted to retain an in-home care manager, expect to pay roughly $21 per hour, if not more. At  a base of $21 per hour, that equates to $3360 per month.

Again, make sure your parents have a plan in place on how to pay for long-term care. It is vitally important for you and your loved ones.

Know your parent’s Estate Plan.

Have your parents done any estate planning? Do they have a will? A trust? A medical directive? Have they drafted a power of attorney to use in case of a disability? It is critical to have some basic, and advanced in some situations, estate planning documents to get through these tough situations. Helpers need access to assets and need the ability to make legal decisions in the event of a disability. It is important to not only know if they have documents, but also be educated on what the documents contain.