Managing Your Parents’ Health & Happiness Long Distance

If you’re a caregiver for both kids at home and aging parents, you’re a member of the sandwich generation.

It’s a stressful position to be in, but an increasing number of adult children are caregivers, often at a significant distance from where their parents live. According to the National Institute on Aging, more than 7 million people are long-distance caregivers. The National Alliance for Caregiving found that the typical caregiver is a 46-year-old woman.

How can you best manage the changing needs of your parents from afar? To get started, consider these tips:

1. Plan ahead

Don’t wait until there’s a crisis to get the information you need. Make a checklist and include:

  • Doctors’ names and phone numbers
  • Insurance policies and enrollment information on Medicare supplement Plan G, etc.
  • Financial contacts (bankers, financial planners, accountants)
  • Social security numbers
  • Phone numbers of local friends

2. Get legal powers of attorney

Northbrook-based family law attorney Eric Matlin says, “Life doesn’t always work out perfectly. Parents should make sure there are documents that reflect their wishes.” Caregivers should get powers of attorney for both medical and financial matters. Requirements vary across the country, so be sure the documents are state specific. “Find a local lawyer where the parent is residing,” Matlin says.

3. Visit

It’s really the only way to see how well things are going. Is the house maintained? Is there fresh food? Can Mom still manage the stairs? Should Dad still be driving? Keeping your parents safe in their home is paramount; there are services that handle routine driving, errands, grocery shopping, etc. The Family Caregiver Alliance provides state-by-state resources for home care, meal preparation and more.

4. See the doctor

Go to appointments with your parents. Understand what’s happening with their health.

5. Share

Involve siblings and others who care about your parents. Identify who is responsible for what tasks. Keep good notes. Talk often.

 

For more information, these sites offer great information about various care providers, housing options and legal issues:

 

Photo: Young woman hugging mother by Bigstock