As the Baby Boomer generation enters their twilight years, a large percentage of their children find themselves sandwiched between responsibilities for their own family and their aging parents. For caregivers who live far from their loved one, this dynamic proves particularly difficult. It’s estimated that there are between 5 and 7 million long-distance caregivers (LDCs) in the United States. An elder law attorney can advise both the elderly parent and the LDC about best practices for long-distance care and estate planning.
Often adult children don’t realize that their aging parent needs care or support until some kind of health crisis occurs. Long distances can compound this situation. When elderly parents live more than an hour away, problems may not be noticed immediately. Advance planning is essential. Ideally, the entire family should discuss responsibilities and make decisions in advance, including who will take the lead in care giving and where responsibilities lie.
In this planning stage, family members can determine the best options for care, including moving the parent closer to the caregiver or enlisting the help of in-home care services in the aging parent’s location. Family members should also make decisions about individual LDC roles. Siblings may decide to split responsibilities. One sibling may be better with hiring and monitoring caregivers, while another may choose to coordinate legal planning.
Here are some things to keep in mind as aging parents and long-distance caregivers plan ahead:
- Respecting the Aging Parent’s Wishes. Many aging parents may need help but want to remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible. It’s imperative that their wishes are taken into consideration with regard to where and how they live.
- Contacting an Elder Attorney. An elder attorney should be consulted to help with estate planning and to guide the family in legal decisions. It’s important that issues such as the power of attorney for health directives be decided while the parent is able to do so. An elder law attorney can also make sure that the elderly person’s property and financial means are protected, while still providing for their daily needs.
- Organizing Affairs. It’s important to know where all of the pertinent paperwork is located.
- Learning About Resources in the Area. Long-distance caregivers should do research to learn about the resources in their elderly relative’s area to find the best in-home care and other services that will benefit them.
Becoming the caregiver for an elderly parent is challenging. In cases where the caregiver lives a significant distance from the parent, the situation can be even more of a challenge. An elder law attorney is an essential element in a long-distance caregiving plan. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you put together a long-distance caregiving plan for your loved one.