By Kate Shuman
travel alternatives - be prepared to ďcare commuteĒ at all times.
Investigate travel options in advance. If youíll be utilizing your
car most of the time for these visits, keep your car in good repair,
and check on the route and weather before traveling. If you have to
rent a car, look for the best rates. Remember, you donít have to pay
for rental insurance if you already carry full coverage, or if your
credit card company offers coverage. You may get a discount when
buying bus or train tickets if you disclose that itís an emergency.
Know to 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. Such issues
include information concerning a will, a power of attorney, a trust,
if thereís going to be joint ownership, is a representative payee
needed (a caregiver who receives government checks for an older
person unable to manage money), and information concerning Medigap
Take care of
necessary paperwork - know where to find all legal, financial, and
insurance documents, including birth certificates, social security
cards, marriage or divorce decrees, wills, and power of attorney
before an emergency happens. Also, know where to find bank
accounts, titles, sources of income and obligations, and auto, life,
homeownerís, 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. Itís
always a good idea to make duplicate copies of everything.
Contact the aging
network - contact the local department on aging in your relativeís
community. This agency can help you identify helpful services,
including obtaining a case worker. Use the National Eldercare
Locator Service at (800) 677-1116 to find local aging agencies.
Create a plan
of care - if at all possible, try to gather the family together for
a meeting with the person who is in need of caregiving. Find out
directly from that loved one what their immediate needs and concerns
are, and work on getting them the assistance they need. Summarize
your agreement in writing among all the family members who are
involved. Keep in mind that family difficulties are typical. You may
need to bring in a family therapist or social worker to help.
had enough time to really assess what the true needs of a loved one
are, youíll probably be able to create a really solid plan of action
and care for them, even though there may be thousands of miles
between you. Planning for the future, continually gathering
information, and taking care of whatís needed right now are the
three main areas of focus for a long-distance caregiver, and while
it may be stressful, itís not impossible, especially if you remember
that you donít have to take this walk alone.