Trying to care for your aging parents from a distance is difficult on so many levels – emotionally, financially, and even physically. Long-distance elderly care has an immense impact on all of us, but even more so when your parents are struggling with dementia, memory loss, or Alzheimer’s. When you don’t live near your parents and you know they need help, it can be difficult to make decisions that you feel confident about – especially when it comes to finding the perfect memory loss assisted living community to suit their needs.
But luckily, there’s hope. The good news is that you don’t have to feel alone in your search for long-distance caregiving or a memory loss or dementia care community. There is actually several ways you can handle long-distance caregiving without having to drop everything and press pause on your life. Instead, we, at Pipestone Place, want to show you how you can maintain an active role in your parent’s life while still living your own. Yes, you heard that right! It’s possible to maintain your own self care and attend to your life, while caring for your parents from a distance.
Ready to dive into our Top 5 Tips? Here we go!
Be Proactive: Research Dementia Care Communities Early
Research is key! We understand that not everyone has the luxury of being able to look into dementia care assisted living centers or memory care facilities – but if you do, you should definitely take advantage! Open communication is essential, so talk openly with your parents while you can about their wishes if they will need to move to a dementia care community. What do they want? Would they be more comfortable living in memory loss assisted living for as long as they can or transitioning straight into a community established for people with memory loss? This can be an exceedingly difficult and emotionally charged conversation to have with your parents, but it is a necessary conversation that you must proactively broach.
Steps to Get Started:
- Google “dementia care community near me” or “memory loss community near me” with your parents to start exploring their options.
- See something that piques your interest? Great! Go to the organization’s “Contact Us” page and request more information or give them a call. Most of these communities will be happy to help you navigate their website or send you additional information.
- Make a list (and “check it twice”)! What are some “must haves” your parents want to see in their community? Also, what questions do you have about the communities you liked online?
- Schedule a tour. At Pipestone Place, we’ve adopted the saying, “Seeing is believing!” You want to explore the community your parents will be living in to ensure it’s the perfect fit for them.
Be Financially Proactive: Explore Costs
Cost matters in the long run. The cost of a memory loss assisted living community or long-distance elderly care can add up quickly. Not every community or residential care home is going to meet your needs, so you must explore and identify the types of care you want to pay for and those services that are secondary to your parents.
Start thinking about how your family will pay for this care when it is needed. Does your parent have long-term care insurance? If so, what services that the dementia care community provides are not covered and will need to be paid out-of-pocket? It’s important to thoroughly research the financial aspects of your new community.
You may also want to think about the other secondary costs associated with memory loss assisted living, which can include purchasing new furniture to fit their new space. You may also want to speak with your parents to find out which mementos and keepsakes from their current home they want to have in their new community home to ensure they are surrounded by treasures that are important to them and bring them comfort.
You may also want to determine if your parents have a long-term-care insurance policy. This is increasingly important to discuss as this helps defray the cost of long-term care. It’s important to understand what the policy covers and what it does not – to determine any additional out-of-pocket expenses you may incur.
Wisdom is Key: Get Advice from Experts
Two (or six) heads are better than one! You may also want to check with your family’s financial planners, lawyers, and even doctors to see if they can offer you any insight into what your parents need (and want) if you cannot ask them yourself. Doing your financial due diligence will pay off in the long run.
Don’t be afraid to ask around. Every family, at some point, goes through this delicate period, and they will have advice and experiences to share. It’s important to remember that not all advice will be great or even good advice, in fact, sometimes it may not align at all with what the experts advise. And that’s ok! Just seeing the different sides and opinions can help you to make well-informed decisions that are beneficial for your family’s unique needs.
Be Action-Ready: Arrange for Top-Notch Care
Sometimes when it comes to this step, it’s difficult to pull the trigger. When you find out that it’s time to arrange care for your parents, you need to be actively on top of the necessary arrangements. We’ve found that the best thing you can do is start by organizing all the information you will need for when “it’s time.” Create a spreadsheet with the names of doctors, nurses, social workers, case managers, residents, neighbors, and anyone else who may be able to help you with care in the short and long term.
Take advantage of all of the resources out there that have been developed to help you find caregivers. There are entire blogs, databases, support groups and dementia care organizations out there to help you make well-informed decisions and explore your options. Spend some time on Google, looking at reviews of senior living communities that take care of people with dementia, and reading what other people say. Reviews are like gold during the selection process. You need to seek out reviews that are compassionate, thorough, and authentic!
Be Tech Savvy: Use Technology to Stay on Top of Things
Where would we be without technology in today’s modern world of convenience? Technology makes everything so much easier during this time. You will be able to stay in touch with your parents (FaceTime is a great option!) and remain an active part of their lives while you continuously monitor their care from wherever you live.
Everyone is familiar with video communication in today’s world, and you can use this to your advantage. When your parents move into assisted living, you can ask whether the workers will help them connect with Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype. You can also ask to have access to certain documents, so you can actively monitor your parents’ care. More memory loss communities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities are all integrating with medical alert systems, so your parents can be more independent and safer.
Ever heard “the sky’s the limit?” The world still has so many different options for your parents, and those options don’t have to include moving your parents to a community near you or dropping your life to move back to your hometown. There is technology that will help to safely monitor your parents, without making them feel like they are under surveillance. Utilizing advanced technology can help bring you the peace of mind you’ve been searching for while also allowing your parents to enjoy their golden years!
Be Loving: Forgive Yourself
Forgiving ourselves is one of the hardest things to do! It’s important to remember that you are absolutely going to make mistakes – we all do! You will have to make decisions that may feel like you are ripping your own heart out of your chest. There’s no sugar coating that it’s beyond difficult to take care of those who once took such good care of us! Even so, it’s important to take care of yourself and be confident in the loving decisions you’re making. You deserve to be happy, and your parents want you to keep doing what you are doing, even if they cannot vocalize those thoughts. You will forever be their “baby boy or girl,” and your happiness is what makes their life worth living!
Though it may not seem so right now, it’s just like the song says, “…don’t worry ’bout a thing – ‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright.” (You just sang that in your head now, didn’t you?) Good – laughter is good for the soul! And even though caring for aging parents from a distance may seem like a daily drudge through an uphill battle, taking advantage of these five simple tips will profoundly change the way you feel about your journey. Because you and your parents deserve happiness!
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Contact Our Pipestone Place Family to Schedule a Visit Today!
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