Caring From a Distance
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), nearly seven million Americans care for an elderly relative from a distance.
NAC found that long-distance caregivers spend an average of $8,700 a year providing support to their loved one. That figure is nearly twice as much as those who live nearby. Travel accounts for most of the extra burden and since most long-distance caregivers cannot visit frequently, or provide care in the home; the situation can become quite difficult to manage both financially and logistically.
Caregiving is often a long-term task. One of the most difficult aspects of long-distance care is knowing when care is needed. What may start out as an occasional social phone call can eventually turn into regular calls about arranging respite services and managing medical information. Caregiving from afar is no easy undertaking. And what happens in an emergency? Some helpful tips to keep in mind while contemplating caring from a distance are:
- Creating a contact list of individuals in regular contact with your relative who can be reached in an emergency. Make sure to have at least one person close by who can check in on them if necessary.
- Make sure to collect important information such as:medical records,a list of medications, insurance carriers and account numbers, a list of all assets and debts, relevant legal documents such as health care directives, wills and power of attorneys, and finally, know the location of important documents like birth certificates or a deed to the home.
If you perceive that your relative requires additional resources in order to maintain their normal routine, it may be beneficial to consult with a Care Manager who can address any questions you have and help you to anticipate future needs. Your knowledge of family history combined with a professionals ability to assess and anticipate your relative’s situation will result in the development a personalized plan for long-distance care.
The process begins by having a thorough assessment of your relative’s current status. You need to make sure that what you hear long distance matches the reality of the situation. The assessment will take a close look at the physical, emotional, and social well-being of the individual to determine what their needs are. Once you understand what the issues are, then a care plan can be put in place.
A number of employers are starting to pay for Care Management services and, if your family has long-term care insurance, this might be covered under the policy. A Care Manager not only provides continuous monitoring and support but can also arrange a multitude of services provided privately or through community resources.
Care Managers can:
- Screen, arrange and monitor in-home help or other services
- Assess health and lifestyle concerns on an ongoing basis and report back to you
- Determine eligibility for community program assistance
- Review financial, legal and medical issues and offer referrals to specialists to avoid future problems and conserve assets
- Help move your relative to and from a care home, retirement complex or nursing home
- Provide consumer advocacy and offer counseling and support
- Offer insight into which local resources you should utilize or avoid
There are no simple answers or solutions and each family’s situation is different. Do not forget your own needs, and if you recognize that long-distance caregiving is causing you stress, take steps to reduce it for both you and your loved one. Here at Feinberg Consulting, we have helped thousands of individuals, enduring a multitude of different issues, but the single commonality is the relief our professionals provide. Our varied backgrounds allow us to pull in different skill-sets that best match the needs of our clients.
A simple 15-minute phone call can help you identify what options are available, and even if Care Management is not the right next step, we are happy to offer advice.