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Plan Ahead for Relaxing Trips Home
to Your Senior

The Senior Advisor
4th Quarter 2003

I'm planning a trip home to visit my invalid mother.  How can I spend quality time with her and not worry about caregiving issues while I'm back?

Anyone who's ever tried to care for an ailing, aged family member miles away knows your challenges.  You may feel that going home will never again be the same.  Bill paying, doctors' appointments and house cleaning often replace the relaxing, enjoyable visits of years past. 

You can take comfort in the fact that you're part of a growing demographic group.  By the year 2030, one in five people is projected to be at least 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a statistic that has considerable ramifications for families who are separated by geography.  The latest statistics show that you are among nearly seven million Americans who provide or manage care for a relative or friend age 55 or older at least one hour away.  

Even though you'are miles from home, it's important to strive for the kind of time together that you once knew.  “"Caregiving is so much more than checking with doctors and rearranging medications,” says author Pamela Stone, whose forthcoming book about long-distance caregiving addresses the challenges of these situations.  “"Spending precious time with your loved ones also is vital.”

Now that you're a long-distance family caregiver, life may never be the same as it once was.  However, advance planning and organization can help you make trips home more fun.  If you've been trying to do it all, consider contacting a geriatric care manager. These professionals are trained in gerontology, social work, nursing or counseling, and can help arrange a care schedule to put your mind at ease while you're gone and make visits home more relaxing. 

The geriatric care manager might recommend that you hire a caregiver to help out as well.  There are two types of caregivers: medical and non-medical. Medical caregivers, such as those provided by a home health care agency, are trained to administer hands-on care. Non-medical caregivers, such as those provided by Home Instead Senior Care, offer such services as companionship, meal preparation and light housekeeping. Geriatric care managers often recommend one type of caregiver or the other, or a combination of the two, to help long-distance families manage and enjoy quality time at home.

Finally, remember to build plenty of time into your schedule so that you and your loved one can do everything you've planned when you go home.  Making a list beforehand can help you and your senior make the most of your time together.

For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact, visit their Web site at www.Homeinstead.com. You may also contact Pamela Stone at pamstone3@aol.com.

Ms. Stone is working on a book about long-distance caregiving. She is a syndicated writer and author of A Woman's Guide to Living Alone: 10 Ways to Survive Grief and Be Happy.







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