When your aging parents live far away, you may find yourself struggling to manage long distance elder care. That is not easy, especially if you have responsibilities of your own.
Mom has been diagnosed with cancer, and Dad’s memory isn’t very good. You know you’re expected to be there to take care of them, but….You live hundreds of miles away. You have a demanding job and your family to take care of.
You can’t be in two places at once.
You want to help! But you’re frustrated with the demands on your time. And you feel just a little bit guilty (or maybe a lot). How can you make choices that satisfy everyone who needs a piece of you?
You can’t. And you shouldn’t have to.
The Growing Challenge of Long Distance Elder Care
In the “old days” people didn’t live so long. The man who would have died of a heart attack at the age of 50, is now living into his 70s or longer. Today, he’s dealing with diagnoses he never would have had if he hadn’t lived so long. The woman who would have outlived him and perhaps moved closer to her children so she’d have family around her as she aged, isn’t right around the corner anymore. Maybe she’s still living with her older husband or because she’s just that independent.
Never before have we experienced the extent of this phenomenon of older parents who need help, living so far away from the loved ones who can help them.
There may be another problem in managing that situation, too. When there are two or more siblings, whether or not one lives nearby Mom and Dad, siblings have to determine who will be responsible for all the monitoring, transporting, prescription filling, grocery shopping, dog feeding, lawn mowing, appointment responding, and more. Not surprisingly, frustrations and arguments emerge.
Does this sound like your situation? Are you trying to figure out how to juggle it all? Do you feel you’re being tugged in too many directions?
Patient Advocates Can Help
One way to get relief in this situation is to find the right person to help you. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone who can be your eyes, ears, assistant and observer? You need a professional who Mom and Dad will trust, respect, appreciate, and even like.
Plus, you need someone nearby, someone to be your boots on the ground where Mom and Dad are. This person can accompany them to doctor appointments and with your parents’ permission, report to you the important findings when Mom or Dad “forgot what he said.”
These people exist. They are health or patient advocates, care and life managers. Advocates and care managers can make arrangements for prescriptions to be filled, tests to be run, transportation to and from, and more. If your parent needs to be hospitalized, your advocate can be there for admission (what do you do in an emergency when you’re hundreds of miles away?). Later, when your parent returns home and just can’t do what needs to be done for him or herself, the advocate can be there.
Get the peace of mind you need and deserve. Stop feeling like you need to make an impossible choice between your own family and your parents. You and your brother can stop arguing over who’s responsible to take care of what.
Conundrum solved without dropping a single responsibility.