(NAPSI)—No matter what modes of transportation are available to you, nothing shortens the distance when you find yourself in the role of caregiver—especially if you’re trying to care for a family member from afar.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, some 34 million Americans are providing care to older family members—and 15 percent of them live one hour or more away from the person for whom they are providing care.
These “long-distance caregivers,” in many instances, are employed and have dependent children of their own. In some circumstances, due to physical distance and/or constraints, the caregiver may be unable to provide everyday hands-on care, but is responsible for arranging for paid care and coordinating needed services.
What You Need To Know
As a long-distance caregiver, you will need to determine if you will be the sole, main or primary caregiver or if you will share the role with other relatives or friends who live closer to your family member. Being a distance from your loved one does not preclude you from being the primary caregiver, but it may take a bit more ingenuity.
As a first step, an assessment of your loved one’s care requirements is essential. The assessment should include both the current medical diagnosis and prognosis and an evaluation of the individual’s need for assistance. You will have to differentiate between assistance with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs):
• ADLs include bathing, dressing, toileting, eating and transferring from place to place (e.g., bed to chair).
• IADLs are supportive care activities such as laundry, meal preparation, shopping, managing finances, housekeeping and transportation.
The assessment must also include an evaluation of your family member’s cognitive status, including his or her memory, judgment and ability to make decisions.
While a care recipient’s needs will change with time, the initial determination of the extent and type of assistance your family member may require and the resources you will need to provide the care are critical to beginning the planning process. The assessment process may involve input from a variety of sources, both informal and formal. Making regular visits to aging parents or other relatives is perhaps one of the most effective ways to assess their abilities and any changes that may be occurring over time.
Geriatric Care Manager
One option for a long-distance caregiver is the use of a geriatric care manager (GCM). A GCM is a professional specializing in the needs assessment and arrangement of services for older people. They are usually nurses or social workers. The GCM can:
• make an initial assessment of needs;
• suggest options for meeting identified needs;
• provide referrals to local resources; and
• arrange for services to be implemented.
You may find a GCM through the local senior center, Area Agency on Aging, elder law attorney or on the professional GCM Web site: www.caremanager.org. Be sure to check references and determine what licenses or certifications the care manager may have. Find out the cost of the various services and determine how they are billed.
Helpful information can also be found in a free booklet called “Long Distance Caregiving” from the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving.
For a copy, you can call 203.221.6580, e-mail maturemarket [email protected], visit www. maturemarketinstitute.com or write MetLife Mature Market Institute, 57 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT 06880.
Caring for an aging relative can be a challenge when you live far away, but there are tools to help make necessary arrangements.