More Long-distance Caregivers Seeking Professionals to Manage Care of Aging Parents

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A recent survey by the Aging Life Care Association reveals that more long-distance caregivers are turning to professionals to help manage the care of aging adults. Holiday visits were cited as a common time that caregivers discover troubling changes in health, behavior, or physical appearance of their family member.

health care management, long-distance caregiving
Most long-distance caregivers hire us when the situation has escalated or becomes a problem that they can’t solve alone

Long-distance caregivers -- those who live a significant distance from a person who needs care -- are turning to professional help for managing the care of their aging family members. A recent survey by the Aging Life Care Association™, shows that over 30% of an Aging Life Care Professional’s case load involves families attempting to coordinate care for an aging parent or other elder from a distance.

The 382 participants revealed the top reasons why long-distance caregivers seek help from Aging Life Care Professionals™, also known as geriatric care managers. The data show Aging Life Care Professionals are contacted most often by long-distance caregivers when:

  • There is a crisis or emergency (76%)
  • Making a visit sees significant changes in health, behavior, or home maintenance (57%)
  • There is a need to explore placement options or relocation (41%)

From mediating complicated family relationships to serving as the local emergency contact, the role an Aging Life Care Professional plays varies client by client. The top five services long-distance caregivers are looking for when they engage an Aging Life Care Professionals are:

  • Consultation about how to best help their parents and/or family (87%)
  • Assessment and care planning (83%)
  • Ongoing oversight/monitoring of care (75%)
  • Routine communication and status updates to out-of-town family (68%)
  • Arranging for home care services (68%)

“Most long-distance caregivers hire us when the situation has escalated or becomes a problem that they can’t solve alone,” says Dianne McGraw, LCSW, CMC and president of the Aging Life Care Association. “Our expertise and our knowledge of local resources allow us to become the team captain and coordinate services. We become the eyes and ears for the long-distance caregiver.”

Survey respondents offered examples of long-distance caregiving cases, many echoing the sentiment that working with Aging Life Care Professionals reduces stress and helps improve or restore family relationships.

  • I currently have a client with memory loss, whose only daughter lives in England. One weekend, while the client was out taking a walk, she took a fall resulting in a fractured skull. She was found by a neighbor and an ambulance was called. I was able to be with her at the hospital, help her stay calm, communicate with her daughter, the hospital, and her physician. As the Aging Life Care Manager™, one is uniquely positioned to coordinate communication in a way that helps everyone involved feel calm and confident, and to help arrange the best outcome for the client.
  • I was hired by daughter in Connecticut for her mother in Washington. Daughter was trying to care manage from a distance, without knowing how, and relationship was becoming strained. Daughter was frequently frustrated, Mom felt daughter was trying to be the boss of her. After completing assessment, care plan, and initial visits, client said, "Thank you for giving back to us our mother/daughter relationship. I feel like I got my daughter back."
  • The most difficult part of long distance care giving for families is denial. Many families don't make the trip to see their loved one, they speak on the phone and the client is able to shield the family from what is happening. Having an Aging Life Care Manager to oversee and update everyone with a non-biased opinion helps all parties involved.

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For more real-life stories from Aging Life Care Mangers, please contact Callie Daters at cdaters(at)aginglifecare(dot)org.

ABOUT the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA): ALCA (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) was formed in 1985 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families in the United States. Aging Life Care Professionals™ have extensive training and experience working with older adults, people with disabilities, and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. They assist families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of Aging Life Care™ and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information or to access a nationwide directory of Aging Life Care Professionals, please visit aginglifecare.org.

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Callie Daters

Julie Wagner
@AgingLifeCare
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