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Tips For Long Distance Caregivers

Caregiving From Afar

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Of the 34 million Americans who care for older family members, roughly 15 percent are long-distance caregivers. These caregivers live at least an hour’s drive from the older adults they are providing care for, typically their parents. Some caregivers are helping to care for siblings.

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Definition of a Long Distance Caregiver

"Caregivers who provide care for an elder who lives at least an hour away”. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, there are 5 to 7 million long- distance-caregivers in the U.S. who are caring for an older relative – a number that is expected to double over the next 15 years. They live on average 480 miles from the people for whom they care and spend an average of four hours in travel time per visit.

As a result, a growing number of adult sons and daughters are discovering just how hard it is to try to ensure the welfare of aging parents who live hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles away.

Are You a Long Distance Caregiver? Get Prepared!

Long-distance caregiving is usually defined as care provided by a caregiver living more than an hour away from the care recipient.

Long-distance care giving can take many forms - from helping manage the money to arranging for in-home care from providing some respite for the primary caregiver to helping a parent move to a new home or facility.

 Many long-distance caregivers act as information coordinators, helping aging parents understand the confusing maze of home health aides, insurance benefits, and durable medical equipment. Families often also turn to the professional services of a Geriatric Care Manager as well.

Talk - Discuss - Learn!

Given the choice, most senior would prefer to continue to live in their own homes known as"aging in place". Unfortunately the majority of elderly people gradually lose functioning ability and require either additional assistance in the home or a move to an elder care facility.

The adult children of these elders often face a difficult challenge in helping their parents make the right choices especially if they live a distance away. This is why understanding what elder care is, and what it involves, is so important.

Talk, discuss, learn what services and elder care options are available in the community BEFORE a situation or crisis arises. 

Learn About Elder Care Options

Elder care is so broad based. It encompasses a wide variety of issues, including choosing an appropriate geriatric physician to care for an aging patient, and making decisions about moving an elderly person from the home environment to a residential care setting.

Elder care can also mean arranging for an array of care services such as adult day service, assisted living, Hospice, nursing care and home health.

It could also encompass arranging for in home care. There are two types of in home care: Medical (skilled care) and Non-Medical (social care).

In home elder care includes a wide range of services that are provided over an extended period of time to people who need help to perform normal activities of daily living such as eating, dressing and bathing because of cognitive impairment or loss of muscular strength or control.

They  may also need assistance with meal planning and preparation, laundry, obtaining medical care, paying their bills paid, senior transportation to and from their doctor appointments as well as to the grocery store.

Benefits of In-Home Care

Medical in home elder care can include rehabilitative therapies, skilled nursing care, palliative care, and social services, as well as supervision and a wide range of supportive personal care provided by family caregivers and/or home health care agencies. Elder care can be long-term or short-term depending on the needs and situation.

Modifying Ones Home

Elder care can include modifying ones home to make it safer and easier to remaining living there. Adaptations can include features that make it easier and safer to manage activities of daily living such as bathing, cooking, and stair climbing. 

Home Modification for Aging in Place

Alterations to the physical structure of the home can improve its overall safety and condition. Home modification examples include installing grab bars and transfer benches in bathrooms, ramps, and handrails for home access.

 There are also ways today to convert the standard step-in bath tub, which can become a safety hazard, to a new 'walk-in' type bath tub. Older adults may tend not to bath as often as they should for fear of   falling. These type of home modifications can make a big difference in making your loved ones home safer.

Medical Alert Systems

Elder care can also include setting your loved one up with a medical alert system. By doing so, everyone is given peace of mind in knowing that if needed, emergency assistance is available at the push of a button.

It's also a good idea to get the names and phone numbers of your elder loves ones next door neighbor or close friend. In the event you can't them by phone you can contact this person and ask them go over and check on them for you, notify you and the authorities should they find something not right. Be sure they have your contact numbers too.

Medical Alert Device

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Aging is like taxes. It's guaranteed so it's always best to be as knowledgeable and prepared as one can, so when the time does arise, better more informed decisions are made. With aging comes a greater need for home care services, senior living communities, respite for the thousands of caregivers trying to work and care for an elder loved one.


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