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Healthy, Happy and Far Away: Advice for Long-Distance Caregivers

Sep-28-2018 | Alzheimer's Care, Caregiver Service, Dementia Care, Elderly Care, House Cleaning, In Home Care, Long Term Care, Senior Care Services,

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If you live far away from an aging parent, you may have gone years without worrying about your father or mother getting to medical appointments, the grocery, or maintaining an active social life. However, with age may come a lack of mobility, forgetfulness, or isolation, and a once self-sufficient parent is suddenly incapable of doing all those things you’ve taken for granted. Seemingly overnight, you’ve become a long-distance caregiver with a very big job of coordinating a whole lot of needs and activities.

Now, you have to determine whether your loved one requires skilled medical care, assistance with daily activities, transportation to medical appointments, companionship, or in-home mobility modifications. It’s a lot to work out, and if the answer to one or more of these scenarios is “yes,” it’ll probably require a trip and a lot of research.

Medicare Supplement

Senior care can be very expensive. Adding a Medicare supplement plan is a good idea because it can help cover expenses that health insurance will not. Benefits may include anything from prescriptions to vision and dental care, based on the plan in which your parent is enrolled. Be aware that the Medicare open enrollment period begins October 15 and ends December 7, so the sooner you can help your parent research options, the better prepared you’ll be if the need arises.

Finding Support

This is an excellent time to enlist the aid of any friends or family members who live near your parent. If that’s not a possibility, consider introducing yourself to your parent’s neighbors in case an emergency intervention is necessary. Hopefully, the neighbors will be willing and able to help with transportation, errands, and other ad hoc needs that will likely arise. Find out as much as possible about in-home health aides, or check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Carelike community resource finder, a free service that can help you identify services anywhere in the US (some senior care services are free and have no income requirements).

Caregiver Support Resources

Trying to carry on with so many new responsibilities can be overwhelming, especially when you live a long plane flight away. Your parent’s care needs could change at any time, so it’s important to know what to do if you have to find home care or companion services or a geriatric care manager. Do some research about local adult day cares, as well as assisted living and long-term care nursing facilities. Be prepared for the unexpected with a personal emergency response plan.


According to the National Institute on Aging, there are approximately 7 million long-distance caregivers in the US. If your parent has a special medical condition or is experiencing a mental or physical decline, a senior monitoring system provides the technology necessary to keep track of your parent and maintain peace of mind. Monitoring technology can keep you apprised of your parent’s health status, location, safety, and health. It can also keep medical care professionals apprised of the situation and increase response times if something goes wrong.


If an emergency does occur, you’ll need to have documentation that allows you to respond in a timely fashion. Also, make sure you have copies of your loved one’s medical records (don’t forget to include the names of doctors and other health care providers), proof of power of attorney, advanced medical directives, a living will, and anything you might need in case you have to travel on short notice.

If you’re a long-distance caregiver, information is a powerful asset because your parent’s care needs could change very quickly. Knowing where to turn in their community is essential because speed is of the essence when the need arises unexpectedly.

Credit: June Duncan for Polish Care Services

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