While the mantra of every realtor is “Location, location, location”, the mantra of every long-distance caregiver should be “Information, information, information”. As a long-distance caregiver, you need as much information as possible to help you supervise the health and well-being of a loved one. That will lead you to the best support systems that will help you care for a loved one who lives some distance from you. Here are three secrets to finding the best long-distance care.
1. Conduct Research and Collect Information: Knowledge is your toolbox and the more information you put in it the better equipped you will be to find the right care for your loved one.
- Learn what services exist in the area where he or she lives.
- List each service and specifically what they offer, when it is available and any fees associated with the service.
- Every area will have a Council on Aging at the local level, usually affiliated with town or city government.
- The state will have a Department of Elder Services or similarly named department that oversees all senior services in the state.
- Counties have elder services as well or an “Area Agency on Aging”.
- You will find that services at the state and county level use the word “elder” and services at the local level use the word “senior”.
- The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Family Care Navigator with a state-by-state searchable database that lists public, nonprofit, and private programs and services. The list includes government health and disability programs, legal resources, disease-specific organizations and more.
2. Know Everyone You Can: The more people you know, the better services you will be able to find. If you can pick up the phone and talk to someone who knows you by name it will be easier to get the help you need. Some of the people you should get to know include:
- Your loved one’s physician, nurse practitioner and/or physician’s assistant.
- The social worker at the hospital. These are the people who know every service available in your loved one’s area. They are invaluable resources if your loved one ends up in the hospital and can help you to navigate the complicated healthcare landscape.
- Ambulance service manager. The ambulance will arrive when called. The reason it’s a good idea to know the ambulance service manager is that you can ask questions about their services, ask how they will know about your loved one’s special needs, what arrangements in the house will make their job easier when they arrive, etc. It will also give you peace of mind that you know the local ambulance service.
- Neighbors. It is very important to know your loved one’s neighbors. You need to know if they are willing to check in on your loved one and if they can be called in an emergency.
- Meals on wheels provider.
- Senior center director.
- Eldercare advocate at the county area agency on aging.
- Eldercare attorney.
The practice manager of the primary care physician’s office. These are decision makers who can help you when you have problems with anything having to do with the physician’s office.
3. Use In-Home Caregivers: Professional at-home caregivers are an extension of you. When you find the right service, you will find people who have your loved one’s best interests at heart and have the knowledge to care for them mentally, physically and emotionally. There are guidelines for finding agencies that provide comprehensive services and that will help you to provide the best long-distance care.
Being a long-distance caregiver requires knowledge, organization and a robust support team. These tips will help you to find the best long-distance care possible for your loved one.