Long distance major caregiver

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I am a 17-hour drive from my parents and I am the executor of their will and main person on their living wills. I am the first to show up at their sides when they need help. My Mother has alzheimers and my Dad had bypass surgery 10 years ago. He is her main caretaker. I have two siblings who live in my hometown and two who live 200 miles from them. Of the two siblings in my hometown, one of them always jumps up to help. The other is always too busy with their family and their family is too busy also. My Mom is having surgery next month, I will be home (minimally) for two weeks to live-in to take care of Mom and help Dad with anything he may need after her surgery but still my siblings flat out refuse to help them day-to-day. Any suggestions? I have talked to them repeatedly. It doesn't seem to help. - Out of Answers Down South.


You deserve praise for looking out for your folks, but it sounds like your sibs are not giving it much time or thought. I also am caring for my Dad from my home in Maryland to his in Florida. He has Alzheimer's and has a full time caregiver.

I don't know the financial situation, but the biggest help to me has been the geriatric care manage who is in Florida. She goes to his doctor appointments, keeps an eye on Dad's physical condition and the condition of his condo (clean, looking healthy, appropriate clothes, decent groceries in the refrig, whatever you need checked.) You might try suggesting to your sibs that you split the cost of a care manager between you. A good care manager will be able to coordinate obtaining any other care that is required, such as a part time caregiver, cleaning service, visiting nursing or whatever might be helpful. This may encourage your sibs to realize that someone has to do the care, and it will come out of their pockets if they are not able/willing to help.

Whatever happens, I wish you a lot of luck with caring for your folks. I know how frustrating it is to be such a distance away, but it shows you have a kind and caring heart.

Thank you for your kind words. I love this suggestion. I will be in Michigan again next month and that will be an excellent time to meet with my siblings and make this suggestion. Hopefully, they will listen. Your posting lets me know I am not alone. It means a great deal to me. Thank you again.
You might also contact your local department of social services, health department or agency on aging. Most states have services available through Medicaid. Each state calls it something different, in VA it's called waiver services. If your parents are not eligible for those services area agencies on aging can be very helpfu.
Thank you, Bobbi. I have contacted the local health department. My visit this coming week, I'll be visiting the local senior center and ask them for information about local agencies. I don't feel like I'm out of answers thanks to you and mdladytenor. Thanks again. The support online is extremely helpful.
I cared for my dad who lived 4 hours away from me. It was difficult because he lived in a rural area where services where limited. I set up Meals on Wheels on my own for my dad, he would occasionally eat the food, but I felt better knowing someone was checking on him every day. I had a tight budget to work with due to his limited income, but I did have enough funds to get a video camera installed in his home through a company for about $40 a month for 12 months then $12 a month after that. The camera allowed me to see him and hear what was going on in the home as well even from 4 hours away. I would then call whoever came to his home to check on my dad - he couldn't use a phone himself. I turned the camera on my computer every night, and my kids liked watching grandpa as well. He knew it was there and liked it.
I had a lot of issues with Medicaid and home health for the first year. It was hard for the limited local home health agencies to find reliable home health workers, so my dad's worker kept changing. It took up a lot of my time. I decided to find some other way to get my dad help. I fitted the cost of private home health through a nation wide company into his budget once or twice a week - it was $20 an hour, I spent about 80-$100 a month. It helped him out, gave him some help when he needed it. He had a hard time cleaning himself after bowel movements, so I installed a toilet-bidet and took away the toilet paper in his home. This helped him out a lot. I also did some modifying in his bathroom, tiling the floor partially by the toilet and rubber flooring as well, creating a wet-shower around the toilet, and installed a hand held sprayer by the toilet so he could use the rest room and get cleaned up without falling. It made for a weird looking bathroom, but it worked.
I contacted a few of the local churches and the local grocery store and worked out a system where I emailed the store a shopping list and then a local church elderly outreach group picked them up and delivered them to my dad while ministering to him. There were times when they couldn't, so I called and set up transportation for him (his area does have a bus for seniors) and coordinated with the store to have a worker help him shop. He really liked that.
All in all it cost about $120 extra a month for my dad to live on his own. He had to make a few cuts in his budget in other areas, but it was worth it and worked for him. Reaching out to local stores and churches was weird at first, but they really helped my dad out a lot.
Thank you for all of your helpful suggestions! My siblings will all be together in my hometown for Thanksgiving and they've been more receptive due to suggestions I've received here. The support has been amazing, thank you!
I am an only child with no real relatives who care about my parents. Any advice for me?
Hi Candc - Hoping others will help, but I'll give you a few suggestions. First a question, do you live near your parents? Are your parents in their home or in an assisted living situation? How much care do they require? I found many resources in my hometown, that I did not know existed. First, you can contact your local health department to see what services are offered for seniors. I also contacted the Senior Citizens Center and they were extremely helpful with a lot of outreach programs including adult daycare (they come to your parents' home for a very minimal fee) and meals on wheels. Please respond with more specifics and we can try as best we can to help! :-)
I sympathize. I have a similar situation. It sounds like your Dad is much better off than the Mom. However, when they are gone, you will be the one who will be left with the inner peace of knowing you did what you could. You will know much more about the strengths and weaknesses of your family. They will come to you for answers someday when they are all grown up.
Thank you, Lilly. One of my sisters is helping more these days, for that I am very thankful. I talk to my Dad nearly daily and he's talking about having someone we know come in and help with Mom. Since I'm so far away, because we know this person, I think it's a great idea. I'm hoping they both get the help and respite they so desperately need. I will be visiting again in May, so we'll see how things are when I'm there. Too difficult to tell on the phone. Take care.

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