If you are a long-distance caregiver who is managing your aging parents’ healthcare from afar, you may be experiencing the same stress and anxiety as millions of other Americans. According to an article by the Associated Press, approximately 7 million Americans are long-distance caregivers. The term caregiver refers to anyone who provides assistance to someone else who is, to some degree, incapacitated and needs help performing the daily tasks essential to living a normal life. This includes many conditions, but among them- someone who has suffered a stroke or has Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, a traumatic brain injury, heart disease, mobility impairment or an elder who is simply frail.
Family caregiver statistics
Many times, a caregiver is an unpaid family member who is involved in assisting a parent unable to perform certain activities on their own.According to the National Caregiver Alliance,
- The average caregiver is age 46, female, married and working outside the home earning an annual income of $35,000.
- Although men also provide assistance, female caregivers may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than male caregivers.
Long-distance caregivers all report roughly the same dilemma: managing doctor’s appointments and medications, coordinating between healthcare providers, and overseeing insurance and a parents’ overall well-being is nothing short of daunting. It often compromises a caregiver’s family obligations, career and overall quality of life. Many caregivers would prefer to live within closer proximity of their parents, but it is simply not an option. Economic factors often drive people far from their hometowns; we take jobs where we can get them!
A typical scenario of long-distance caregiving:
Kristy Bryner lives in Portland, Oregon and cares for her 80-year-old mom in Kent, Ohio. She’s worried that her mother may slip and fall, miss her medications or have a medical emergency with no one there to help. Bryner reminds her mom to take her medicine, makes sure rides are lined up for doctor’s appointments, deals with problems with insurance coverage or financial issues and rushes to her aid if there’s a problem. Bryner knows her mom wants to stay in her home, but says someone needs to look out for her. That’s why Bryner talks daily with her mother via Skype. Many long-distance caregivers say they insist on daily calls or video chats to check up on their loved one. Often, they need to find another relative or paid caregiver who is closer and can help with some tasks.
Expenses of long-distance caregiving
Long-distance caregiving is expensive in and of itself. Whether it’s paying for prescription medications or doctor co-pays, installing a ramp for a wheelchair-bound parent, or purchasing other supplies, caregiving has a significant economic impact on a family. A 2007 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare found that annual expenses incurred by long-distance caregivers averaged about $8,728—far more than caregivers who loved close to their loved one.
Over the next four decades, the number of people 65 and older is expected to rapidly expand. The result will be a far smaller share of people between 20 and 64—the age groups that most often is faced with caregiving.
Local caregivers under the gun
It’s not just the long-distance caregivers that are under pressure. Family members who live locally and are caring for a loved one can be the most overwhelmed! Often, because of their proximity, they are the sibling who’s expected to do everything for mom or dad- even when they have family and career responsibilities of their own. Local caregivers may not feel comfortable making all of the medical decisions alone and the hours required on a weekly basis may be more than their job allows. Many caregivers report losing jobs and/or a work demotion due to lost hours and taking leaves of absence from work.
What is a Private Healthcare Advocate & why do you need one?
What does that mean for those of us who have aging parents and are anticipating various forms of caregiving in the future? A plan for the future is a great start! It’s not enough to hope for the best or leave it up to chance. One solid solution is a Private Healthcare Advocate. Advocates are health care professionals (such as RNs) who have intimate knowledge of hospitals and our medical system. A private healthcare advocate insures that you always have an expert on hand—and this is set up BEFORE you are in “crisis mode.” Advocates will help and guide you with all aspects of your aging parents’ healthcare needs—and you don’t have to worry, because they are experts. Here are the services that a private healthcare advocate will provide for your parent or loved one:
ü Healthcare Planning: Develop a personal care plan: short-term & long-term.
ü Unexpected Medical Events: They will help & guide you in an unforeseen medical event in order to make the best possible decisions.
ü Research all Treatment Options Available: Help locate the best care and/or facilities. There are specific facilities for different types of necessary care.
ü Act as a Liaison with Healthcare Providers: Ensure they are communicating well.
ü Resources: Advise you about your insurance and/or Medicare coverage. Need community financial aid? They can help you locate and secure it.
ü Medical Bills: Review & negotiate for you.
ü Home Visits: If the caregiver is long distance, many advocates will make periodic visits to ensure the patient is receiving the proper care and taking their medications.
California & Washington Residents: Contact Mid-Valley Legal Nurse Consulting
Get all the details you need about finding a Private Healthcare Advocate. A MVLNC Private Healthcare Advocate will help you navigate our health care system. We can take the added stress away and give you back your quality of life. Managing your loved one’s health & well-being doesn’t have to be complicated! You are still your parent’s caregiver, but now you can add the necessary expertise to make it all manageable. After all, everyone needs to be healthy—including the caregiver!
CA: (559) 862-1224 WA: (360) 450-3590