Long-Distance Caregivers Receive Help
June 19, 2009
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Living in a different city or state, miles from aging parents, can be difficult. Keeping in touch by telephone and making long trips to help parents or aging relatives with their needs can be time-consuming and not nearly as effective as being available full-time in person.
According to a report by the Alzheimer’s Association of Los Angeles and Riverside, California, there are approximately 3.3 million long-distance caregivers in this country with an average distance of 480 miles from the people they assist. The report also states that 15 million days are missed from work each year because of long distance care giving. Seven million Americans provide 80% of the care to ailing family members, and the number of long-distance caregivers will double over the next 15 years.
The long-distance caregiver is a new role that is thrust upon children and younger family members. Families used to live closer together, with children residing and working near their parents. But nowadays family members are more distant from each other. Society, today, is recognizing this. Some caregiver services have tweaked their programs to work as liaisons between long-distance caregivers, senior loved ones, and local medical professionals.
Professional care managers, also known as geriatric care managers, elder care managers or aging care managers, represent a growing trend to help full time, employed family caregivers provide care for loved ones. Care managers are expert in assisting caregivers, friends or family members find government-paid and private resources to help with long-term care decisions.
They are professionals who are trained to evaluate and recommend care for the aged. A care manager might be a nurse, social worker, psychologist, or gerontologist who specializes in assessing the abilities and needs of the elderly. Care manger professionals are also becoming extremely popular as the caretaker liaison between long-distance family members and their aging loved ones.
The most important thing is to find a geriatric care manager where your loved one lives. This geriatric care manager will have knowledge of all the services in the area and can be your eyes and ears.
The following is a partial list of what a care manager or geriatric care manager might do:
- Assess the level and type of care needed and develop a care plan.
- Take steps to start the care plan and keep it functioning.
- Make sure care is in a safe and disability friendly environment.
- Resolve family conflicts and other issues with long-term care.
- Become an advocate for the care recipient and the caregiver.
- Manage care for a loved one for out-of-town families.
- Conduct ongoing assessments to implement changes in care.
- Oversee and direct care provided at home.
- Coordinate the efforts of key support systems.
- Provide personal counseling.
- Arrange for services of legal and financial advisors.
- Provide placement in assisted living facilities or nursing homes.
- Monitor the care received in a nursing home or in assisted living.
- Assist with the monitoring of medications.
- Find appropriate solutions to avoid a crisis.
- Coordinate medical appointments and medical information.
- Provide transportation to medical appointments.
- Assist families in positive decision making.
- Develop care plans for older loved ones not now needing care.
Services offered will depend on the educational and professional background of the care manager, but most are qualified to cover items in the list above or can recommend a professional who can. Fees may vary. There is often an initial consultation fee that is followed by hourly fees for services. Health insurance usually does not cover these fees, but long-term care insurance might.
When you take into account the time absent from work and time to find the right care resources for your loved ones, along with the cost of travel expenses to monitor their care, you will probably concur that using a caregiver is money well spent. Add to this the stress of handling your own life circumstances combined with being a caregiver, and you will probably wonder how you could have ever done without the care manager.
The attorneys at Oast & Hook can assist clients with their estate, investment, insurance, long-term care, special needs and veterans’ benefit planning.
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