According to a study conducted by AARP and the National Alliance of Caregiving, over 10% of family caregivers live an hour or more away from their retired parent or aging loved one in the US. If a study had been done for retirees in Florida specifically, you would find this percentage to be much higher, as parents along the Eastern Seaboard have moved to Florida for retirement while their working adult children are primarily in the Northeast. Since our agency is in Florida, and a high percentage of calls we get are from out-of-state family members, we realize the stress involved in trying to coordinate and create a care team from afar.
In comparison to local family members, distant family members have much larger obstacles to overcome in ensuring that proper care has been established for their aging loved one. While it may take a little heavier lifting upfront, putting a care team in place will greatly reduce the need for constant phone calls and taking multiple unpaid/unplanned leaves of absence from work in order to ensure their loved one is doing well. For this reason, caring for a senior from afar requires a strong care team, which is highly functional, reliable, readily available, and spot-on with respect to care-specific responsibilities.
The easiest way to accomplish this is through hiring an established home health agency that becomes the glue between all the different pieces of your care plan. They can effortlessly coordinate, conduct, and communicate daily routines to all family members and physicians to create a cohesive care plan that ultimately will create a safer environment for a loved one and bring greater peace of mind to the family.
Here are some proven tips to create an amazing and dependable team to care for your aging parents from far away.
* Setting Your Budget: Discussing a care budget and getting into your parent’s finances can be difficult. Start with finding out what financial resources are available to them. Document what policies they have, such as long-term care, life, and health insurance. A home health agency can call these providers on your behalf and see if any benefits are available for home health care. After this has been determined, and you’ve received an estimate of cost for services from a home health agency, you can determine what out-of-pocket expenses may be incurred and if that can be budgeted in to their retirement expenses.
* Health Information Access: If you want your parent’s health care provider or any hospitals they may visit to share information with you, they will require a health care surrogate/health care power of attorney form signed off on that grants them permission to share this information with you. You can easily find one of these forms for free online and have your parents sign them.
* Finding a Local Home Care Agency: This can be the tough part as you may not know whom to trust or how to find the right agency. Your parent’s friends in their local community, or their doctor’s may be able to provide you with the names of agencies they are comfortable with. There are also many online home health agency directories, such as Caring.com or Agingcare.com that will put you in touch with local agencies. Talk to a few, so you can get the hang of it, understand how the process works, and start to understand the differences between what each agency offers and which would be the right fit for your loved one.
Verifying Agency Credentials: Check if the agency is licensed and what kind of professional certifications employees of the agency hold, in addition to any accreditations of the agency itself. Knowing whether or not their staff is comprised of actual employees or independent contractors is also important. Some agencies will only use independent contractors to avoid employee-related costs, but this removes their ability to truly supervise and manage the caregiver. Make sure to ask how they hire staff.
Knowing their Availability: When picking a local home care agency, it is good to know their availability for the type of care your loved one needs in the first place. Depending on the type of home care, this could be either on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis. Talk to them to understand if the care can be accomplished by one care giver or if it will require a few. Very limited care hours or round-the-clock care my require that more than one caregiver be involved.
Discussing Cost: You should ask the agency how much they would charge for the care that needs to be put in place and how much can be covered by insurance if possible. Don’t stress yourself out trying to determine this. The home health agency can do this on your behalf and if they won’t, find another one. They should be making things a little easier on you whenever possible. Established agencies will offer a FREE care plan/cost estimate after doing the research for you.
* Creating & Managing the Team: After you’ve gone through the above exercises and selected an agency to be a part of your team, you should be able to rely on their caregiving experience and adeptness to create a highly efficient and organized care team. There may be a heavier level of communication with you initially to make sure things are set up the right way, but that should taper off and fall into more of a weekly call to communicate how things are going and alert you of any health shifts if they occur. Don’t be afraid to ask them to communicate more or less depending on what makes you feel comfortable. They can also make adjustments to the care plan according to feedback from your loved one. It may take a week or two to get in a good groove but it will happen and alleviate some stress in worrying about your loved ones health. If it doesn’t, and you are finding it still too burdensome, look for another agency. It may not be the best fit the first time, but don’t let that discourage you as you can and will get a good team put in place.
In conclusion, choosing an established home care agency to take care of your aging family members allows you to continuously monitor the health and well-being of your loved one while mitigating the burden of trying to do it all yourself. This can be very important as these events often happen during an adult child’s most productive and financially beneficial working years that are important for their own retirement.
Whether you need a very specialized type of care for your parents at home or just a little supervision and companionship, Unified Pledge Home Health can be your trusted partner! With completely FREE in-home consultation and care plan estimates, Unified Pledge encourages you to connect with us – even if you don’t need the care now!