Providing care and support for an aging parent who lives far away can present a variety of challenges that can make the job difficult and stressful. Here are some tips and resources that may help you.
When it comes to monitoring and caring for an aging parent from afar, you have a couple of options. You can hire a professional to oversee your parent’s needs, or you can manage things yourself by building a support system, tapping into available resources, and utilizing technology devices that can help you keep tabs on them.
If your parent needs a lot of help, you should consider hiring a geriatric care manager who will give a thorough assessment to identify needs and will set up and manage all aspects of their care. But geriatric care managers are expensive, typically charging between $100 and $250 per hour after an initial assessment of $150 to $750, and are not covered by Medicare.
To find a geriatric care manager in your parent’s area, visit AgingLifeCare.org or contact the nearest Area Agency on Aging (800-677-1116) to see if they have a list of providers.
If however, your parent only needs occasional help, or if you can’t afford to use a care manager, here are some things you can do yourself to help:
Put together a network of people (nearby friends or family, neighbors, clergy, etc.) who can check on your parent regularly, and who you can call on from time to time for occasional help. Also put together a list of reliable services you can call for household needs like lawn care, handyman services, plumber, etc.
Most communities offer a range of free or subsidized services that can help seniors with basic needs such as home-delivered meals, transportation, senior companion services, and more. Contact the nearby Area Aging Agency to find out what’s available.
If your parent needs help with their financial chores, arrange for direct deposit for their income sources, and set up automatic payments for their utilities and other routine bills. You can also set up her online banking service, so you can pay bills and monitor her account anytime. Or, if you need help, hire a daily money manager to do it for you. They charge between $25 and $100 per hour.
This is also a good time to make sure your parent has the following essential legal documents: a will; a living will and health-care proxy, which allows you to make medical decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated; and a durable power of attorney, which gives you similar legal authority for financial decisions if needed.
If they don’t have these documents prepared, now is the time to make them. And if they are prepared, make sure they’re updated and know where they are located.
Depending on your parent’s needs, you may need to hire a part-time home-care aide that can help with things like preparing meals, housekeeping, or personal care. Costs can run anywhere from $12 up to $25 per hour.
To help you keep tabs on your mom or dad from afar, there are various technologies that can help. For example, there are medical alert systems, video camera monitors, wearable activity trackers, and electronic pill boxes that can notify you if they have taken their medications. And to help you coordinate care with members of their care team, there are websites like LotsAHelpingHands.com.
For more tips, call the National Institute on Aging at 800-222-2225 and order their free booklet “Long-Distance Caregiving: Twenty Questions and Answers.”
Learn how to provide home care to a family member by signing up to receive the free guide from Senior Resource! Providing Home Care to a Family Member FREE GUIDE
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.
Originally published July 24, 2023