“When you can think of yesterday without regret and tomorrow without fear, you are near contentment.” – Source Unknown
In conjunction with the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Life Care Funding continues to develop new programs and offer advice to caregivers. As families face senior caregiving for their loved ones, NIA attempts to offer pertinent suggestions for local and long-distance caregivers.
Senior caregiving is a huge responsibility and with families often located in different areas, the challenges can become even more daunting. Long-distance caregiving can be helpful to local caregivers and can provide comfort to siblings as well as the distance caregiver who wants to carry their fair share of responsibility.
While long-distance caregivers usually are most helpful by managing the large volume of documentation that accompanies senior care, there are other responsibilities that can play an important and helpful role in the senior’s quality of life.
Long-Distance Caregiving and Documentation Management
Today, long-distance caregiving is easier than ever. The hard part is getting started but with so many senior caregiving institutions relying upon state-of-the-art reporting and record keeping technology, authorized local and long-distance caregivers can have immediate access to MD reports, tests and physician summaries.
Uncoordinated caregiving can stress family relations. Everybody has their ideas about senior care and end of life decisions so effective caregiving requires teamwork. The best way to keep family unity throughout the experience is to plan early and involve seniors in important decisions ahead of the need.
When caregivers and loved ones disagree about end of life decisions, feelings can bruise. This exact situation has given birth to a generation of practicing attorneys who specialize in senior care.
Long-distance caregivers can be involved and even oversee procurement of certain documents that define the senior’s healthcare and end of life decisions. These documents include:
- Advance Care Directives
- Durable Power of Attorney specifically for healthcare
- A Living Will
- General Power of Attorney (POA)
- A will and beneficiary information
- Insurance policies
- Sources of income
- List of assets and liabilities
- A copy of the most recent tax return
- Any other relevant documents
It is never too early or too late to consult with an attorney who is experienced in senior care law. Properly drawn and executed Advance Care Directives can be especially helpful when facing difficult end of life situations and unexpected healthcare challenges.
There are two types of Advance Care Directives: the living will and the durable power of attorney for healthcare. The living will declares in writing the type end-of-life treatments the senior wants. These are generally the most strenuous decisions and can cause hard feelings among loving caregivers. The durable power of attorney for healthcare lists the names of persons authorized to make medical decisions on behalf of the senior. Each authorized person is known as a healthcare proxy. These two legal documents are intended to make decision-making by caregivers more defined.
Meanwhile, the General POA allows authorized caregivers to manage business affairs of senior loved ones. A responsible long-distance caregiver can provide comfort and relief for their loved one by accepting and diligently administering this responsibility.
A properly executed will eliminates family squabbles by stating the senior’s precise wishes for distribution of assets and personal property. It may seem annoying to trouble the loved one with these decisions but distribution plans for most estates can be decided in one weekend. If the senior decides to amend the original will or advanced directives at a later time, it is a relatively easy process.
Managing the Basics
Long-distance caregivers should be prepared to be confronted by missing and undocumented records and inconsistent information. Gathering accurate information and updating outdated information can be time consuming but once organized, hours upon hours will be saved during the tenure of the caregiving experience. Long-distance document management is an exacting exercise but one that needs to be performed and relieves the pressure on local caregivers.
Long-distance caregivers can begin by identifying the following information:
- Full legal names of seniors
- Address of seniors
- Birth dates, locations and birth certificates
- Social security numbers and Medicaid numbers
- List of employers and dates of employment
- Military record
This information will not only be helpful to senior care facilities but can be used to identify all sources of financial assistance. Like local, in-person caregiving, long-distance caregiving is demanding but when the time comes to use this information, your participation will yield great relief to all parties.