When the rhythms of daily life alternate between work and play, the distance between family members tends not to be much of an issue. With so many possible communication options, maintaining a daily family conversation has never been easier. The onset of an illness or aging’s impact on a parent may bring geographical issues to the forefront. Hospitalizations are frustrating examples of the limits of relying on phone calls to obtain medical information and make medical decisions. Between staffing shortages, COVID protocols as well the standard change of shift and timing of rounds it is extremely difficult to be an effective long-distance advocate for a hospital patient under current conditions. There is no substitute for in-person oversight of a loved one’s care.
So what to do? If there is no health emergency, the adult child should think about housing options for their parents. Is the home manageable for aging parents? Are there too many stairs? Would the hiring of a home health aide for a few hours a day alleviate some concerns? Are there neighbors or extended family nearby who could offer some support and provide objective communication? Does a new residence situated on one level make more sense? Besides the family home, Assisted Living Facilities offer a modified independent living arrangement with regular meals, entertainment and on-site medical and care assistance. Outside doctor appointments are also made by Assisted Living staff who consult with the family. These types of facilities may be a good fit for family situations that will not allow for regular adult child visitation and intervention.
An acute illness requires more planning for the adult child. Many times, a parent requires an extended hospitalization, but the adult child cannot be present to supervise. Hopefully, the parent completed a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy that names the adult child as a decisionmaker. These documents allow the adult child to be involved in every facet of their parent’s immediate and long term care. If the parent’s medical care is progressing well then the focus can be on the discharge planning and rehabilitation with hospital case managers. Difficult hospitalizations coupled with haphazard communications may lead adult children to consider Private Duty Nursing for their loved ones. Though pricey, Private Duty Nursing provides 1 to 1 care and direct communication during the hospitalization. The hiring of professionals to manage a health crisis is an intelligent way to navigate the complexities of the health care and long-term care systems.
Assembling the right team is very important. Elder care professionals such as attorneys, Medicaid Coordinators, Social Workers and Geriatric Care Managers have the ability to set-up an effective plan of care with asset protection. Obtaining referrals and talking with friends and family who have gone through these situations will lead adult children to choose the right professional for the tasks ahead. The first goal is to establish consistent communication with the parent, if possible, and the professionals assisting the family to get a full understanding of the pressing issues. The second goal is ensure that the parent has high quality care without losing substantial resources.
Being far away from a loved one who is struggling can be hard to handle. There are ways to gain more control and maintain regular communication, but it requires planning and commitment. Talk to the professionals at Sloan and Feller today to find out how to help aging parents from a distance.