Long distance caregivers with elderly parents who are aging in place can worry less if they create a caregiving team managed by a geriatric care manager.
For many families, an in-home caregiving team can be a cost effective way to preserve independent living until assisted living becomes necessary. You can reduce caregiver stress while supporting your parents’ independent living by following these six steps to establish a caregiving team:
1. Identify family, friends, and community resources that are willing to contribute to the care team.
What resources are already available in your parents’ area? Think about church members, neighbors, social clubs your parents have participated in, and community resources like the local Area Agency on Aging (in Charlottesville, Virginia ours is JABA) and the local senior center (Ours is Senior Center, Inc.) Will you be hiring a companion, home health aide, bookkeeper or housekeeper? (Check the Care is There list of resources and check Cville Seniors for the Charlottesville, Virginia area.)
2. Clarify roles and boundaries for care team members.
Determine what type of assistance each part of the team can provide without incurring too much of a burden. Can someone from the church give your parents a ride to worship service each week? Can you pay the neighbor’s teenager to mow the lawn and to make a short visit with your parents when he is finished? If one adult child lives closer and visits more often, can another adult child pick up a larger part of the care bills?
3. Get your loved one’s buy-in for the new components of their care team.
The absolute key to making a care team effective is to have your loved one support the process. That way you are “caring with” rather than “caring at” your loved one! Remember that this is about empowering their independent living as well as empowering your independent living. Brainstorm with them about who they would like to see more often and therefore include in their team. Consider contributions your parent can make to the people that are “helping” them so your parent doesn’t feel like a burden. Make this a project you do together, and in your conversations keep the emphasis on their preferences rather than your advice!
4. Hire a local geriatric care manager to coordinate the caregiving team.
It makes a big difference for your team to be coordinated by a local geriatric care manager who knows the community, knows the team members, and can visit your loved one regularly. A geriatric care manager can also introduce you to people, ideas, and resources of which you may not even be aware. The geriatric care managers at Care is There are experts at creating and managing care teams for local and long distance caregivers. Contact Care is There for ideas!
5. Establish a long distance caregiving communication network.
When you have several different people assisting your loved one, it is crucial to have a good communication network. At Care is There, we establish a central website where everyone has access to a calendar, critical medical information, team contact information, and the latest news from our visits. Our sites send emails out to the entire care team so everyone knows what is going on. We also utilize the website to post photographs and share victories and celebrations!
6. Create a caregiving backup plan.
Since a care team has many moving parts, it is important to have a backup plan. At Care is There, we assign a lead geriatric care manager to each client family and we also assign a backup geriatric care manager, both of which are kept in the loop through our communication website. That way, if the lead geriatric care manager needs to take time off, the backup geriatric care manager – with whom you and your loved one are already familiar – can step in and keep things running smoothly.
Using these six easy steps, you can establish a long distance caregiving team that can preserve your elderly parent’s independent living, allowing them to age in place and saving you from guilt and stress!
For more tips from Care is There, see our other articles on aging in place and long distance caregiving at The Caregiver’s Secret. If your loved one lives in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, contact Care is There for a free geriatric care management consultation.