Skip to content

50+: Live Better, Longer

Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving

Font Size
A
A
A

If your mother lives in Phoenix and you're in New York, how do you help take care of her? Angela Heath, director of the Eldercare Locator Hotline of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, has compiled 10 strategies to help you cope. This article is adapted from Heath's book, Long-Distance Caregiving: A Survival Guide for Far Away Caregivers.

Get organized
Keep track of important information in a care log.

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

Stuck in the Middle with You

If you’re caring for an elderly parent -- or parents -- and your own children at the same time, you’re probably overwhelmed, overworked, overscheduled, and exhausted. You’re also part of a growing cultural phenomenonknown asthe “sandwich generation.” As today’s parents have children later in life, it often means that their childrearing and other family responsibilities collide head-on with the growing needs of aging parents. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP),...

Read the Stuck in the Middle with You article > >

Identify your informal network
Ask for help from people in the older person's community, such as relatives, neighbors, longtime family friends, and members of religious, civic, and social organizations. Ask them to call you collect if they spot a problem.

Investigate travel alternatives
Be prepared to "care commute." Investigate travel options in advance. Keep your car in good repair, and check on the route and weather before traveling.

If you rent a car, look for the best rates. Don't pay for insurance if you already carry full coverage or your credit card company offers coverage. You may get a discount when buying bus or train tickets if you disclose that it's an emergency. Purchase airline tickets seven days in advance and stay over a Saturday night.

Discuss legal and financial issues
These topics may be difficult to talk about, but they help ensure that the older person maintains decision-making authority even when incapacitated. Preplanning will also lessen family disagreements and protect family resources.

  • Will: The older person decides how to dispose of assets after death.
  • Power of attorney: Gives a caregiver the authority to act on behalf of the older person.
  • Trust: Estate-planning document that allows the older person to transfer assets and avoid probate and other legal problems.
  • Joint ownership: Makes it easier to gain access to older person's finances.
  • Representative payee: A caregiver receives government checks for an older person unable to manage money.
  • Medigap insurance: Pays a portion of medical bills not covered by Medicare.

Take care of necessary paperwork
Find all legal, financial, and insurance documents, including birth certificates, social security cards, marriage or divorce decrees, wills, and power of attorney. Identify bank accounts, titles, sources of income and obligations, and auto, life, homeowner's, and medical insurance papers. Review these documents for accuracy and update them if necessary. Store documents in a secure place such as a safe-deposit box or a fireproof box. Be safe -- make duplicate copies.

Today on WebMD

blueberries
Eating for a longer, healthier life.
romantic couple
Dr. Ruth’s bedroom tips for long-term couples.
 
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Quiz
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article