By Mandy Merkel, MMSc, CCC-SLP
Senior Resource Consulting
After my parents retired to Florida, we thought things would be fine; if something happened to them, we could hop on a plane and take care of things.
Unfortunately, it was not that simple. Dad broke his hip and needed short term rehab – unbeknownst to us, he had been taking care of Mom as her dementia advanced.
Like many parents, he had kept us in the dark about how much she depended on him and like many children, we chose not to see the realities of her decline.
Now we were in a crisis:who would take care of Mom while Dad was in rehab? None of us lived closer than a plane ride away – all of us with jobs and families of our own. How would we deal with this?
Long distance caregivers increase
About 7 million adults are long-distance caregivers, mostly caring for parents who live an hour or more away, according to the National Institute on Aging.
If you are or might become a long distance caregiver, develop a plan before a crisis occurs. The plan should include emergency information, options for care (in home vs. relocation), and available resources.
Here are some steps to consider:
The family team
When working as a team, agree in advance how your skills can be complementary. Try to take on tasks best suited to your skills, but be realistic about how much you can and are willing to do.
Consider your limitations.
Join a caregiver support group, either in your own community or online to help relieve your sense of isolation and give you a chance to exchange ideas.
Use a Professional Geriatric Care Manager (PGCM), a health and human services specialist who helps families care for older relatives by evaluating needs and coordinating care.
When interviewing a geriatric care manager, you might want to ask:
Many long-distance caregivers describe feeling guilty about not spending enough time with the elder. Making a care plan will help your peace of mind.
If you need answers to your elder care questions, send your questions to us at:
Answers are provided by our ElderCare Matters Partners, some of America's TOP Elder Care Professionals who have years of experience in helping families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care / Senior Care Services.
All Q&A's are posted on the homepage of ElderCareMatters.com
If you help familes plan for or deal with elder care matters, then you owe it to yourself and to families across America to become a professional member of the National ElderCare Matters Alliance and to be listed on the many Elder Care / Senior Care Directories that are sponsored by this National Alliance of Elder Care Professionals.
For additional information about professional membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, (including the many benefits of becoming one of our ElderCare Matters Partners) and to download an Application for your Basic, Premium or Partner Membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, visit: ElderCare Matters Alliance.