Magazine article Work & Family Life

Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving

Article excerpt

There's a good chance that health, recreation and other support services for older people are available in your parents' community. But what if you live far away and your parents are unable to locate these services on their own? This requires some coordination on your part-to find out what's available, to make arrangements for new services and then to do some on-site follow up to make sure that what your relatives are getting is what you bargained for.

Assuming you have made preliminary contacts from home and now are going to visit your relatives to check on services that have already begun-or to arrange for new ones-here are some suggestions:

Get a head start before you visit

Make sure you have a phone directory from your parents' community to make additional contacts with programs and services and to call your relatives' friends and neighbors when you're there.

Call ahead to prevent the frustration of being unable to schedule appointments while you're visiting. Make appointments with agency personnel, doctors and friends who can help. Take the opportunity to talk frankly with these people who see your parents regularly.

If you have already arranged for a particular service, try to make sure it starts before you arrive. This will give you a chance to see how it's going and, if necessary, hire or replace personnel before you leave.

Things to do while you're there

Be observant about health and safety issues. Is there a change in your parents' health status? Are they eating properly? Are friends coming around? Are finances being handled properly? Is the house clean? Is the house or apartment in good repair?

Talk to neighbors, friends and helpers about how your parents cope when you're not there. You may uncover problems your parents have kept from you. …

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