By Jennifer Gibbons, LCSW, Adult & Senior Care Advisor
When my mom fell one summer, she was standing on a ladder painting the columns in front of her home. She hadn’t told anyone she was planning to do this, and couldn’t imagine any trouble would come from it. When she lost her balance she fell six feet to the ground along with a full bucket of oil-based paint. So not only was she lying on the ground with a broken arm and without anyone in sight to assist her, but she was covered head to toe in paint-- six hours from where I live and work.
In that moment after receiving a call from the hospital, I immediately thought of my poor mother in distress. But quick to follow were thoughts about my job-- the long to-do list and deadlines approaching, as well as the kids needing to get picked-up and dropped-off from various places. How was I going to manage this long-distance caregiving emergency? I realized how the careful balance of work and family can be thrown off kilter very quickly.
As stressful as this situation may seem, it’s important to remember that there are options to help in a long-distance caregiving emergency:
- Communication is instrumental in working effectively with medical staff, caregivers, and family – especially when caring from a distance. Agree to communicate with your elderly loved ones as a unified group. Determine the best way for the team to regularly share updates and concerns going forward to remain informed. Conference calls allow all family members to participate in the dialogue and group emails ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- Medical Results and Care Plans can be copied to you for effective coordination of care. Ask the medical staff what documents you, your parent or the health care proxy needs to sign to facilitate this. Speak with your mother about your desire to participate in all care plan meetings so you can stay abreast of important information.
- Professional Caregivers can be a lifesaver at stressful times. Hiring a trained caregiver to assist your mother allows you the time to handle any follow-up medical, legal, or insurance issues for your mother. Paid caregivers are especially helpful when you’re not there to provide the care yourself. When my mother was discharged from the hospital with a broken arm, having a trained, reliable caregiver at her home to assist with bathing, dressing, and meal preparation allowed me to return to work and my family knowing she was in good hands.
- Employee Benefits often offer a variety of resources for you and your family to help in an emergency. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the benefits are available to you, preferably before an emergency happens. Reach out to your Work-Life or Human Resources departments for information in advance. This way if a crisis happens, you’ll know where to turn for help.
- Bring Legal Documents that can assist you in handling the care needs of your mother. You may need to make decisions on her behalf, hire care, or select a site for rehabilitation. A health care proxy, power of attorney, and consent forms will enable you to facilitate her care more efficiently.
Call Care.com for personalized guidance and assistance. Our Adult and Senior Care Advisers are experienced, masters-level social workers. Call us today at (855) 781-1303 and we’ll be happy to help with your senior care challenges.