Your aging parents live in Florida and you are somewhere else in the country (or the world). In today’s society, families are very mobile so it is not unusual that various circumstances cause us to be many miles apart from our loved ones. Long distance caregiving has its own special challenges.
One of the concerns we hear about from many adult children as their parents age is the worry related to not being there and knowing things are deteriorating. As aging parents face health issues, there is a certain amount of anxiety every time the phone rings. Will Mom be in the emergency room? Will Dad have a fall? How will I get there and assist them in time? How will I put things at home on hold and balance ensuring they are safe with all my obligations? How will I know where to turn? One of the goals of EasyLiving’s blog and the work that our team does is to help long-distance caregivers find solutions to these and other concerns. Here we will share some advice on a five step plan to prepare for “the call”. We also remind you that we are always here to help…so keep our phone number (727-447-5845) handy and reach out to us any time!
Take these five steps to be more prepared for “the call” that your aging parents need help:
- Talk about it. Start a dialog with your parents before a crisis. Some parents may be more open to talking about these issues than others. If yours are reluctant, share stories of what you are doing to prepare for your own aging, talk about neighbors/friends’ scenarios and use “windows of opportunity” to spark discussions. There should never be just one big talk about these issues. If you can let the conversation happen more naturally over time, it allows everyone time to process the information.
- Be prepared legally. Talk to your parents about completing key legal documents, if they have not already. These should include a Durable Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney/Surrogate Document, a Living Will and estate planning documents such as a Will and/or Trust. Seek the advice of a qualified estate planning or elder law attorney. If your parent wants you (or another family member) to be involved, they should also complete privacy paperwork with their medical providers to permit those providers to share information with you. Once legal documents are completed, make sure the key decision makers have copies/access to them.
- Create a quick reference list. Do a little homework on resources you might need in your parents’ area. Make a list of important phone numbers and bookmark websites for organizations or information you might need. Even having one or two trusted resources you can call can bring huge peace of mind. Talk to some local providers before there is a need. Get a feel for who you’d trust to call upon for assistance.
- Get on the locals’ radar. Take some time to meet Mom and Dads’ neighbors and friends, if possible. Try to attend a doctor’s appointment together when you visit. If your parents are comfortable with it, set up an introductory meeting with trusted advisors such as their attorney or financial advisor. The meeting does not necessarily have to get in to depth about specific information, but it can really help both you and those professionals to have that connection.
- Talk about roles and coordination of a “care team”. Who might be able to step in to do what? What local resources can assist and what might you need “on the ground” to help you in long-distance caregiving? What roles will various family members be able to take on (from the perspective of both ability and desire)? Talk about how coordination might work and potential pitfalls. Sometimes in a desire to be “fair”, aging parents split roles or appoint multiple adult children to share decision making. This can slow down the ability to react and bog down the process. Talk through possible scenarios together and talk to professionals about the practicalities of how things might work.
Put EasyLiving on your quick reference list for help in Tampa Bay, Florida with an array of senior care needs. Our senior care consultants are here to help you find the answers you need. Give us a call at 727-447-5845 to discuss your questions or concerns in caring for aging parents long-distance!