At Aspire Health, we recognize those who are working hard to take care of friends and relatives. We know caregiving can be a heavy burden that becomes even more challenging over long distances. To help you provide the best possible care even if you’re in a different city or state, here are a few tips!
#1: Be prepared
As with many of life’s challenges, it’s important to be prepared. According to the National Institute on Aging, it’s a good idea to keep important paperwork in one place. Some of the items you’ll need to round up include:
- Personal records
- Social Security number
- Certificates of birth, death, marriage, etc.
- Employment or military paperwork and dates
- Names and phone numbers of close friends, relatives, doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors
- Financial records
- Bank accounts
- Medicare or Medicare Advantage (MA) plan enrollment information
- Income tax return
- Mortgages, debts and information on how to pay them
Help your loved one store this important paperwork in a safe, desk, or drawer or list the location of all papers in a notebook. (You may want to make your own notes about the location of the papers.)
#2: Talk about advanced care
It can be hard to start a conversation about our loved one’s wishes. However, sorting out the options and their preferences before accident or serious illness is helpful down the line, especially if you can’t be with them when something happens. Ask your loved one to reflect on questions like:
- Who would I trust to speak for me if I can’t speak for myself?
- What is it I value about living?
- What are my wishes for end-of-life care?
Answering these questions is a first step to completing the California PREPARE Advance Directive form, which formalizes their designation of a medical decision maker and documents their own medical choices. Read our blog for more tips for advance care planning and information on advance care directives and POLST forms.
#3: Organize local resources
It’s hard not being able to be there for your loved one all the time. Organizing local resources can help you provide care when you’re not with them. Here are a few local resources to consider:
- Transportation: If your loved one has Original Medicare, they will be covered for emergency transportation. However, if they need transportation to other places like doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, pharmacies, or hospitals, they may benefit from transportation benefits provided by an MA plan, such as Aspire.
- Meal delivery: It’s important to eat healthy at all stages of life, but as we get older, it can be too tiring or too expensive to cook up nutritious meals every day. Meal delivery is a good option to help your loved one eat well on a regular basis. One options is Meals on Wheels,. Aspire members who have recently had surgery, or been discharged from the hospital may qualify for meal delivery through Mom’s Meals NourishCare.
- Social activities: Social connections are crucial as we get older. If your loved one is far away from family, they may feel isolated, but there are many ways for them to make new friends. Local libraries or senior centers offer activities for older adults. You can also find classes designed just for seniors and the topics important to them like the Community Connections classes offered by Aspire Health.
#4: Don’t forget to take care of yourself
While you’re taking care of others, don’t forget to make time to take care of yourself. According to Caregiver.org, four out of 10 family caregivers find their situation to be stressful, and burnout is a big concern. Remember the common saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup! Take time to journal, meditate, or go on walks when you feel stressed. It may also help to practice mindfulness: acknowledge the stressful situation, be kind to yourself, and form a plan of action to cope with those feelings.
#5: Work with a local MA plan
One great way to make sure your loved one is getting the care they need is to find a local expert, such as those available through an MA plan. MA plan offer all the benefits of Original Medicare plus additional hearing, prescription, and vision benefits. They also offer health and wellness benefits and local services like the transportation and food delivery benefits mentioned above. If you’re interested in getting started with an MA plan, our Aspire Health plan Advisors are here for you! Give our team a call at (866) 798-1530 TTY users call 711.
We hope that this information can help make caregiving a little easier for you. Aspire is always publishing tips and tricks for caregivers, so be sure to visit our blog, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and give us a call if you have any questions.