Sunday, January 27, 2013
Tips for Long Distance Caregivers.
In this Sunday's paper in RI, there was an article written by Pamela Yip who writes for the Dallas Morning News. The article is called 'Taking care long distance'. Pamela discusses a variety of things to think about and put in order for your elderly parents if you are a distance away. She refers to Kathy O'Brien, senior gerontologist at the MetLife Mature Market Institute - "We know that many more people are caring for family members than ever before". Another person, Kay Paggi, a Dallas geriatric care manager says "The big issue for long distance caregivers is not really knowing what is going on"; "A lot of time, Mom and Dad rally don't want you to know what's going on. They are used to being the parent, the wise person, the independent person, the problem-solver. They are not going to tell you they are failing every day, even if you ask".
Many long distance children worry about falls, eating habits, medications. You don't always have current information, if any. What if there is the beginning of dementia or Alzheimer's? Are you getting the correct information when you speak with your parents?
According to the article, the experts advise:
* create a network: have a care plan in place where you have people in place to call you or you can call and who can oversee your folks. Get to know their neighbors. Get an emergency response service pendant/watch with a button they can push for help.
* make sure you have a detailed list of doctors (and their phone numbers) and medications (why they are taking them), get friendly with your parent's pharmacist, make sure everyone knows what over-the-counter vitamins or supplements they take or herbal teas.
* maybe hire a geriatric care manager - they can go to the house and do an assessment of the home and how your parent(s) function. The care manager can put a plan into action and supervise the homemaker who goes in. It states that the care manager costs $100 - $150 per hour.
* use the web - pay their bills online for them, see if you can get copies of Medicare information to make sure they keep up with medical bills.
* get legal authority for housing, finances and medical. Get powers of attorney to handle financial matter if they cannot do things and a medical one to make decisions if your parent cannot make decisions. Get HIPAA authorization so you can have access to medical information.
There is good information here that will work for children who are close by as well. Basically, as the old saying goes 'you need to have your ducks in a row'.
Footnote: I lived near mom but we did do all these things. I knew her doctors very well from going to appointments with her. She verbally told them that they could speak to me any time I called but we did end up doing the appropriate paperwork. We did give the pharmacist a copy of the power of attorney so I could talk about her meds. We found a local agency that was able to make modifications to her home so it was easy to stay there longer.
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4 Signs of Caregiving Stress Overload
ElderCarelink email posts 4 signs that should not be overlooked by you, the caregiver, or a close family member or friend. They report that even though the immediate caregiver may not be helping in direct care, the mind is never far from the needs of the older person, thinking about meals, falling, medications. Take the opinion of a family member or friend if they are telling you that you are stressed. Four signs: you skip your own physicals; you isolate yourself from others; you eat and/or drink too much for good health; you are short tempered with the elder, your spouse or your children. If any or all of these sound familiar, take a break no matter how short in order to recharge. For more information on caregiver stress see ElderCarelink
You can check out my ranting and stream of consciousness writing about looking at adult service providers with Will.
A Caregiver's Poem
I was looking through a 'Caregiver's Blog: Senior Care Support' and came across a poem that was shared by a writer, Dana, from the blog. The poem was written by Becky Netherland and Dana's grandmother shared it with her. I thought it was great and there is not much to say about it - just read!!! Enjoy!!
(picture from Caregivers Blog)
I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk
Learned lessons old and new
And now this wisdom of my life
I’m blessed to share with you
Let kindness spread like sunshine
Embrace those who are sad
Respect their dignity, give them joy
And leave them feeling glad
Forgive those who might hurt you
And though you have your pride
Listen closely to their viewpoint
Try to see the other side
Walk softly when you’re angry
Try not to take offense
Invoke your sense of humor
Laughter’s power is immense!
Express what you are feeling
Your beliefs you should uphold
Don’t shy away from what is right
Be courageous and be bold
Keep hope right in your pocket
It will guide you day by day
Take it out when it is needed
When it’s near, you’ll find a way
Remember friends and family
Of which you are a precious part
Love deeply and love truly
Give freely from your heart
The world is far from perfect
There’s conflict and there’s strife
But you still can make a difference
By how you live your life
And so I’m very blessed to know
The wonders you will do
Because you are my granddaughter
And I believe in you.
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