Word of the week: LOCATE, and long distance caregiving.
If you live in City A and are unfamiliar with City B then exactly how do one go about providing care from a distance? Is there a way to truly place a finger on the pulse from a distance with accuracy? How does one determine what is normal, or when action is needed?
If it is time to act, how does someone in City A find local resources for their loved one in City B? When answers are needed now, what does a long distance caregiver do?
A recent article by Liza Berger in Today’s Caregiver, Long Distance Caregiving – A Growing Phenomenon addresses long distance caregiving and the need for having a local team in place.
Berger reminds us that caregiving is often triggered by a crisis. Adult children suddenly find themselves in a new role and face geographic challenges to boot. Some three million Baby Boomers (Hello, Everyone) are caring for or managing the care of someone who is over the age of 55 and at least an hour away. Welcome (if not already) to the Sandwich Generation: busy with families of your own and managing obligations with your senior relatives, often across the miles.
The “Long Distance Caregiving” guide from MetLife concludes that probably the best way to appropriately determine a loved one’s limitations and needs is by making regular visits. Having a local set of eyes and ears could benefit the situation in terms of quick and accurate assessment. Someone who knows the relative well installs an automatic touchstone and provides you with a valuable window.
One of the most essential parts of caring for a parent long-distance is to LOCATE a core group of people you can rely on to help care for your relative. Hiring a local Advocate can provide that touchstone for your loved one, noticing changes and communicating with family.
Consider an Advocate as the key player in your core group. They not only LOCATE physicians and specialists but are instrumental in planning for the appointment. This could mean arranging for transportation or helping to develop a list of questions that will be asked.Consider also the value of establishing an open line of communication with the medical provider and sending those questions ahead!
We know that Advocates are frequently involved during a doctor visit. They are to facilitate the information exchange and provide a summary. This is of benefit to any patient who struggles to remember all the details they wanted to cover in the meeting. Having a summary of the exchange helps a patient and conveniently keeps the out-of-towners in the loop.
Everyone will agree that outcomes are improved when the patient understands the diagnosis and treatment plan, and when follow up appointments are arranged and kept. Here are three more important factors to consider as you LOCATE your core group member: First, it is likely that a local Advocate would be familiar with resources in their community. Ask how long they have worked in the area. Secondly, get a feel for their ability to perform research to find what you need. If that service is not mentioned, that could affect your decision. Thirdly, look for your touchstone to have strong alliances already in place with local providers. With these three bases covered a long distance caregiver will have greatly enhanced the circle of care.
We hope you will LOCATE our website www.navigatenc.com to see how we may be able to help your senior. Serving the Triangle NC area, we provide and LOCATE the services to complete the circle of care for your loved one. If you would like to speak with a touchstone, begin by calling us at (919) 628-6448 to request a free consultation.
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