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What to Do When Your Loved One Needs Long Distance Care

Marian Cremin

The email from my father’s wife in Connecticut was short and direct. “I need help.” My father’s moderate dementia, confusion, and poor ambulation had gotten to the point that he could no longer stay alone. He was at risk of falling, was unable to prepare food for himself, and at times became disoriented.

For years I lived a train ride away from them in NYC. In 2000 I moved with their enthusiastic blessings to start a life with my husband in California. My siblings are settled with jobs and families in the mid- and southeastern US. My father’s wife is fit and healthy but housebound by his needs. She needed respite.

Scenarios like mine play out each and every day in thousands of American’s lives. How do you manage this situation without picking up and moving your family or your parent?

If this scenario sounds familiar, remote caregiving might be the answer. Fortunately, there are now many home care agencies which focus on remote caregiving and taking the burden off families and loved ones of those that need care. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not the only options available. Non-medical home care allows your loved ones to live where they want to be... their own home.

Here are some questions to consider when determining if your loved one needs professional care:

  • Does your loved one need assistance with walking?
  • Has their physical and/or emotional health been declining?
  • Are they able to prepare nutritious daily meals?
  • Are they able to shop for themselves?
  • Are they able to manage their bills and financial responsibilities?
  • Are they taking their medications on time?
  • Are they still able to drive safely?
  • Are they in need of companionship?
  • Are they able to dress and groom themselves?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, professional home care might be an option for you. When considering agencies, choose one that can offer more than basic homemaker services, including dressing, bathing and other hygienic activities. Because not all states require licensing, be sure to check that the agency is bonded, insured and licensed.

For piece of mind for you and your loved one, understand the caregiver’s background and experience. Agencies should be able to provide you this along with conducting a criminal background check on its employees. You also should be able to meet with the caregiver before you agree to services to make sure that personalities match and you are comfortable with the service they provide.

Since home care services are non-medical, they currently are not covered by Medicare. But you do have options. Home care services can be paid individually or by long term care insurance. Often, funds from associations are available as well. For example, contact the organization that is involved with the illness that your loved one is afflicted with. Funds are sometimes available for their members.

Veterans and their spouses might qualify for the Disability Pension for Aid and Attendance. Others decide to take out a reverse mortgage. Whatever your situation, the proper research can determine the best route for financing care.

Most importantly, stay in contact with your loved one and the people involved in their care. Establish periodic phone calls and visit when you are able. Conversation shows you care whether you are in the same room or across the country.

Visiting Angels

Visiting Angels is Sonoma County’s Premier Employee-based Homecare agency serving the non-medical caregiving needs of Seniors in our community. Our professional caregiving staff specializes in Alzheimers & Dementia care, Hospice, and surgery recovery.


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