Being a caregiver for an elderly loved one is often mentally, physically, and financially exhausting when you live close by and have the resources close at hand to help. Providing that care from a distance adds yet another level of stress and anxiety to an already challenging task. To help alleviate some of that stress, the Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC offer some tips for long-distance caregivers.
Caregiving Facts and Figures
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, about 53 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. Almost one in four (24%) caregivers are providing care for more than one person. The monetary value of the services provided by unpaid caregivers is truly staggering – and it is increasing noticeably as the older population continues to increase at a historic rate. Experts estimate that the current value of unpaid care is over $500 billion and continues to rise as the population of older Americans also continues to increase.
Long-Distance Caregiver Tips
An increasing number of adult children are finding themselves in seemingly impossible situations when a parent reaches the point where a caregiver is necessary. For an adult child who has moved across the country (or the world) and now has a family and/or career rooted in that new location, it isn’t easy to just pick up and move back home to care for a parent. Many soon find, however, that providing care from afar is equally difficult. If you find yourself facing this dilemma, consider the following tips:
- Educate yourself. Educate yourself on your loved one’s medical history, overall health, and medications. Check with your loved one’s doctors and research online. Make sure though that you have permission for online access to medical records and other information protected by HIPPEA.
- Research. Research any specific medical conditions your loved one has. To help care for your loved one you need to have a clear understanding of how any medical conditions they have impacts them. This will help you know what to expect and what symptoms to watch out for that could indicate a serious problem.
- Get to know care providers. While it may be difficult to do from afar, try to learn what you can about the health care professionals caring for your loved one. If someone provides in-home care, you want to develop as close a relationship as possible with this person because he/she has direct access to your loved one and could exert considerable influence over him/her.
- Organize. Create a filing system for important documents. This might include his/her birth certificate, social security card, insurance documentation, bank account statements, estate planning documents and anything else that seems important.
- Legal authority. Ensure that you have original copies of important legal documents. To properly care for your loved one, you will likely need the proper legal authority to do so. That authority may be given to you in the form of a general power of attorney, as the Trustee of a trust, in medical release forms, as an agent in a medical power of attorney, or as a court-appointed guardian. You may also want to become a joint owner of property owned by your loved one to make it easier to manage the property. In any case, you need to have the proper documentation close at hand in case someone questions your authority.
- Plan for emergencies. Anytime you are caring for an elderly loved one, whether from within the same house or from thousands of miles away, you need to be prepared for an emergency. Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready if you live within driving distance. If you live too far to drive, decide ahead of time the best way to get there quickly (plane, bus, train). If you must travel abroad, make sure your passport is up to date. Finally, have a contingency plan for children, pets, and your job in the event you must pick up and go on a moment’s notice.
Contact Los Angeles Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about caregiving or other elder law issues, contact the experienced Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group APC by calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.