Managing your mom or dad’s care from another town, county or state can be
very challenging. Caregiving companies will often see an increase of work
after the family has visited from out of town after the holidays. Of course, this
is a time to see your parents after a long break and often convinces a
family member to explore additional care.
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 caregiver has to have another person conduct an assessment
for them. It is not uncommon to try and gather information by phone from the
doctors, nurses, or even friends and neighbors. Of course, many of these
people may not know your parents as well as you do, which can cause you to
doubt the assessment.
In my case, my mom lived in the state of Washington, over 1,000 miles from
my home. I would talk to her on the phone a few times a week. Most
conversations I had with my mom, I felt like I have had at one time or
another, but she was pretty good about seeming normal to me. Maybe there
had been a little drop-off, but nothing that seemed to raise a flag. It
took a bad fall and an extended hospital visit to get a professional to
assess her cognition. It was a little shocking, even for me, how quickly
she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My wife flew to Washington, to help my
sister assess the situation. It was determined that she could no longer live in
her home alone.
My sisters and I met on the phone and determined that it would be best to
sell my mom’s house and move her closer to me. I work in the care industry and
we determined that a Board and Care was the best value for the 24-hour care
she required. This took a lot of pressure from my sisters and me, knowing she
would be cared for and it wouldn’t break the bank. My mom has had her
ups and downs, but I am happy to report she has really settled in nicely.
Many long distant caregivers may feel guilty about not doing enough. I
know when my mom was up in Washington, I would hear about my sister taking
time off and helping my mom go to the doctors, shop for her or do her yard
work and I felt bad. Now that she lives near me the load has shifted to me,
but we have managed to split some of the other duties to my sisters so that
none of us are overwhelmed.
The Family Caregiver Alliance has a step by step handbook to help people
who live remotely. Check it out.