Making Long-Distance Caregiving Work For Your Family

Caregiving from a distance is never easy. Making sure a loved one who needs help is getting the help they need, taking their medications and getting to appointments can be challenging enough, let alone trying to help coordinate these things from hundreds, even thousands of miles away. Here are some helpful tips to make your life a lot easier, according to AARP.
Create a Contact List. Assemble addresses and phone numbers of friends, neighbors, doctors, faith leaders and others in regular contact with your parents who can be reached in the event of an emergency. Include at least one person close by who can easily check in on your loved one. Consider giving this person a key to your home with your loved one’s approval. Give one copy of this list to your loved one and keep a copy for yourself.
Collect Important Information Before a Crisis. Keep these things organized in case something happens.
  • Medical
    • Medical records
    • Notes on their condition
    • A list of medications they take
    • Names and phone numbers of all doctors
    • Name and phone number of their pharmacy
  • Insurance
    • A list of insurance policies, the carriers and account numbers
  • Utilities
    • Company names and phone numbers for all utilities, including electric, phone, cable and internet
  • Financial
    • A list of all assets and debts (include dollar values)
    • Yearly or monthly income
    • Yearly or monthly expenses
    • A statement of net worth
    • Information on bank accounts, other financial holdings and credit cards
  • Legal
    • Relevant legal documents your loved one has or wants to create (i.e. wills, advance directives, trusts, powers of attorney)
    • Location of important documents (i.e. birth certificates, deed to home)
    • Social security numbers
Make Visits Productive. Visiting your parent or loved one should be an enjoyable event. But take advantage of time together to address needs.
  • Before your visit, decide together with your loved ones what needs to be taken care of while you’re there, including scheduling any necessary appointments.
  • Make a list of household items that need to be purchased and, if possible, go out and buy them.
  • Allow time to go through mail and old papers.
  • Take note of anything out of the ordinary and of what they eat. Check to see what they have in their refrigerator and pantry and if it’s sufficient.
Look into Public Benefits Online. By using Benefits QuickLINK you can find helpful state, federal and private benefits programs for which your parents live. By answering a few questions, you will get fact sheets, applications and websites for programs that can help them save money and cover costs of everyday expenses.
Keep Lines of Communication Open. Be sensitive to your parents’ views. At first, they may not be very open to change. Maintain a positive focus, explain how the services will work and that they are designed to help your parent remain independent. If possible, offer to contribute to the cost of care without appearing to offer charity. If your suggestions are turned down, have an unbiased third party, like a doctor, recommend the service.
And be sure to check out as a free tool for caregivers to organize care for a loved one in a private and secure setting featuring a shared calendar, custom task lists and more.
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