Solutions To Long Distance Caregiving

It is becoming increasingly common for family members to provide care to a loved one from a distance. This is an inevitable result of the shift from the days when families were multigenerational in the same area (or sometimes the same house!) to the modern trend where the family members are distant from one another. Hence, it is not uncommon to find a child from a different area or state being responsible for an aging parent or parents. 

With the distance approach, however, comes a unique set of problems. The distant caregiver cannot generally take the proper amount of time to care for the loved one. This is especially true as the care needs increase over time. The caregiver increasingly relies upon telephone contact with medical and other professionals to meet the needs of the loved one.

One solution is to find a family member of relative that is closer to the loved one needing care, or one that is able to move in order to live closer to or with the loved one. Medicaid laws provide rewards for such benevolent family caregiving in that the home of the disabled adult can be transferred to the caregiver child free of the common Medicaid divestment penalties (under certain conditions). In addition, caregiver contracts are still permitted wherein a family member may be paid for caring for the loved one, as long as the various legal requirements are met. These and other legal provisions may help family members provide the care that they ordinarily could not without this generous financial support allowable under law.  

Furthermore, to meet the rising demand for a local helper to meet the care needs of a distant loved one there is a growing trend to utilize the services of a geriatric care manager (also known as Elder Care Managers or Aging Care Managers). Not only are these care managers able to provide care, they can often serve as an invaluable resource for referrals to other professionals (such as doctors, lawyers, etc.) and facilities (such as home care, assisted living centers and nursing homes). Moreover, they can assess the level of care needed and propose solutions depending upon the available resources. 

Jacqueline Marcell -- author of “Elder Rage, or Take My Father...Please! How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents” (Impressive, 2000) -- says,

The most important thing to do is to find a geriatric care manager in the area where your loved one lives. She will have knowledge of all the services in the area and can be your eyes.

Below is a partial list of what a care manager or Professional Geriatric Care Manager might do:

  • Assess the level and type of care needed and develop a care plan.
  • Make a referral to an elder law attorney if needed.
  • Take steps to start the care plan and keep it functioning.
  • Make sure care is in a safe and disability-friendly environment.
  • Resolve family conflicts and other issues with long term care.
  • Become an advocate for the care recipient and the caregiver.
  • Manage care for a loved one for out-of-town family members.
  • Conduct ongoing assessments to implement changes in care.
  • Oversee and direct care provided at home.
  • Coordinate the efforts of key support systems.
  • Provide personal counseling.
  • Help with Medicaid qualification and application.
  • Arrange for services of legal and financial advisors.
  • Provide placement in assisted living facilities or nursing homes.
  • Monitor the care received in a nursing home or in assisted living.
  • Assist with the monitoring of medications.
  • Find appropriate solutions to avoid a crisis.
  • Coordinate medical appointments and medical information.
  • Provide transportation to medical appointments
  • Assist families in positive decision making
  • Develop care plans for older loved ones not currently needing care.

Fees for a geriatric care manager may vary. It is common to have an initial consultation fee ($150.00 to $250.00) with hourly fees for services (usually $50 to $75 per hour). While the fees are not covered by health insurance, they could be paid by long term care insurance.  

When considering the cost of geriatric care management the families need to consider the importance of safety and quality of life for their loved one. In addition, the cost to have the distant caregiver travel and monitor the care can sometimes exceed the cost of the geriatric care manager. Hence, the cost involved is a valuable investment in the safety and security of your loved one. 

Heritage Elder law is proud to be structuring legal solutions to help the distant caregiver. We also cooperate with geriatric care managers and other professionals to meet these needs. Working together we can meet the modern world’s challenges as they create unique problems for the elderly.

Contact us today to receive a free strategy session with an experienced elder law attorney.