Long Distance Elder Caregiving
By Janet T. Loughlin, LICSW, CEAP and Lisa Goss, LICSW, CEAP Partners Employee Assistance Program
Busy employees who care for elderly parents from a distance need education about resources and information for planning ahead. Whether you are anticipating your elder relative’s need for assistance, or you are facing a sudden change, there are helpful guidelines and agencies to support you. If you would like assistance in finding the right resources, feel free to contact the Partners Employee Assistance Program.
Helpful Tips for Long Distance Caregiving:
- Learn about your parents’ informal network – neighbors, old friends, doctors, clergy and lawyers and make sure they know how to reach you and you know how to reach them.
- Develop a list of your parents’ important medical information such as physicians’ names, medical conditions, medications (both prescribed and over-the-counter, including dosages) and health insurance information (including long term care insurance.)
- Attend an appointment with your parents’ primary care physician.
- Learn where your parents keep their important financial and legal documents (such as wills, house deeds and life insurance papers.)
- Identify elder resources in the state in which your parents reside before a crisis. The Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service to help locate local support. Call 1-800-677-1116 or www.eldercare.gov to locate the closest Area Agency on Aging.
- Check into home care agencies in their area and visit other housing options such as assisted living and nursing homes.
- Examine your parents’ home for possible hazards such as loose rugs, cords that could be tripped over or lighting issues. Consider if they need adaptations to the environment such as handrails.
- Communicating about these issues can be difficult. If you can, raise these issues before your parents become disabled.
- Talk to your parents about kind of medical care they would want if they were to become too ill to express their wishes, and help them set up advanced directives. Through living wills and health care proxies, their decisions about end of life care are clearly stated. Make sure you and their doctors have a copy.
- Caregiving, especially from a distance, can be both rewarding and a challenge. It’s important to care for yourself as well. Consider attending the EAP Elder Care Monthly Discussion Group at MGH. Meeting with other caregivers can give you a chance to exchange ideas and stories.
For more information or to discuss elder care concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.
In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.
This content was last modified on: 06/30/2008