Take steps to monitor elderly parent's welfare from afar
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
2/06/13 at 2:04 AM
Dear Doctor K: How can I help care for my elderly mother? She lives alone, but not close enough for me to visit regularly.
Dear Reader: My mother lived into her late 70s. She lived 3,000 miles away. Supervising care and handling problems that arise can be difficult.
Here are some tips I followed:
- Book regular trips. When you visit your mother, try to arrive at the beginning of the week. That way, you'll have several weekdays to handle problems and line up services. Call ahead to make appointments if you plan to research caregivers or nursing homes.
- If you're checking up on caregivers already in place, it may be better not to give advance notice. When you arrive, look around and ask yourself: How is your mother doing? Is the house clean? Are pantry and fridge shelves well stocked? Are bills being paid?
- Take some time to organize important papers. If possible, make copies of these documents, or at least note where this information is kept.
- Set up a safety net. Give neighbors or friends a set of house keys. Look into medical alert systems, such as a pendant your mother can press if she falls or needs help in an emergency. Have a regular phone-in time to check that everything is fine. Arrange for regular visitors. Ask friends, relatives and neighbors to alert you if anything seems worrisome.
- Keep helpful numbers handy. Put together a single list of doctors, social workers, neighbors, friends and helpful agencies.
- Arrange necessary services. When possible, interview and hire people, such as home nursing staff, in person. Arrange for non-health services, such as landscaping, grocery delivery and cleaning services, as well.
- Keep tabs on finances. Check financial statements to stay apprised of any possible problems.
- Hire a geriatric-care manager located in your mother's area. He or she can help cut through red tape and coordinate care. Your mother's doctor may have some recommendations.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106