A topic I have written about a number of times is the challenges facing the long distance caregiver. Operating as we do in the greater Sacramento, California region, we often talk, at Support For Home In-Home Care, about the “daughter in New Jersey.” For us, that has been a real person, with several different home care clients. The challenges they face – or the son in Arizona (also real) or the ex-spouse who still helps care for her ex-husband, at a distance – are numerous and difficult.
It is impossible for the long distance caregiver to be with her or his loved one as frequently as necessary to provide the care required for the senior to live safely and happily at home – and yet, that is where the senior wants to be and that is what the long distance caregiver wants, as well.
The very good blog by Alzheimers Support published an article, ” Tips for long distance Relationships For loved ones with Alzheimer’s dementia“. There are a number of very good tips in the article, including the following:
- “Set up an emergency procedure“. For us, we believe that should include a personal emergency alert system (pendant or bracelet), with a “phone tree” that includes people / organizations local to the care recipient. There is not much someone in Nebraska can do, when the emergency happens in Davis, California.
- “Get approval to handle their affairs“. This is a very big deal. Trusts should be in place for loved ones, including designation of appropriate medical and financial power of attorney assignments. This is really important to get done before any signs or diagnosis of dementia is present, as that condition will, in most jurisdictions, make it impossible for the loved one to actually assign away those powers. We have seen families have to take a loved one to court, in order to get power of attorney established – and that can get ugly.
- “Consider professional home care“. Again, for the long distance caregiver, this can be critical. That professional home care does not mean hiring someone “under the table.” One either needs to hire an agency (which is the responsible employer) or hire a caregiver as an employee of the family. Otherwise, the long distance caregiver is asking for trouble from unpaid workers compensation and unemployment insurance taxes and – the worst – dealing with claims filed by the caregiver. From an employer agency, additionally, one needs to make sure they have adequate liability and dishonesty bond insurance coverage. Do not take short cuts on this issue.
What other advice to you have for – or as – a long distance caregiver?
Best wishes. Bert