I had to move my Aunt into memory care in July from the ALF side.
Little over a week ago, I got a call from the Director asking if I would agree to move my Aunt into another room with her new friend.
The facility only had 2 halves and had a married couple needing a room.
I agreed!
I was told that the move was done!
Although I have been completely responsible for my Aunt's emotional and physical needs, my brother (5 hours away) has been responsible for her technical needs.
My brother is not the best communicator and after several texts and unanswered calls, he finally told me that he transferred everything to my Aunt's new room, but he didn't know if it worked. Ugh!!
I was able (10 plus calls) to get my Aunt on the phone tonight!!!
When I asked her about her move and new roommate, she has absolutely no idea what I was talking about.
It's so frustrating!!
While I understand that her brain is shot, I think she would still know that she had a new roommate!!
So more phone calls to her ALF tomorrow to the bottom of things.
How do you deal with being a long distance caregiver?

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People may not like my answer, but I think it is very hard to do long-distance caregiving. It is one thing if you are a POA or someone a little more emotionally distanced. Then you are pretty much just interested in dotting the i's and crossing the t's. If you are emotionally invested, it is much harder.

I totally understand careers, mobility, and elders who don't want to move. I would just recommend that younger people consider all this in the "big picture" when considering who they may be responsible for down the road. It sounds simple to just have the loved one in assisted living 500 miles away, use a geriatric manager, have others check in. But when the you know what hits the fan, you know who will get the call. Long distance caregiving is as hard a job - if not harder - than down the street caregiving. There are many leaps of faith to make when you cannot be on scene yourself to evaluate and remedy if necessary.

Again, these are all individual, personal choices. We do our best.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to tornadojan

Imho, until I pulled up roots and moved to another state and in with my mother (I don't advocate this), trying to talk to her daily over the phone became a real challenge for me because mother would constantly talk over me. Prayers sent.
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Reply to Llamalover47
Dosmo13 Nov 11, 2020
I have a long-time friend in her 90's who lives in a NH far away from me. I can't visit her in person. I call her on the phone occasionally, or she calls me, She "talks over me" a lot. It is a bit annoying, but I chalk it up to her "uninspiring" living situation and lack of real friends or family to talk to. Just wondering, other problems aside, Is it easier to talk with your mom now?
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I did long distance caregiving, 12 hour drive, for both parents in their home and later assisted living for over 6 years. I wanted to hire in home help but they refused. After a bad fall in 2017 I moved them into assisted living.

I made the drive every few weeks and spent lots of time getting to know staff and administrators, even the maintenance guy. He was a great help. It really helped later to put a face with the voice on the phone when they or I would call about an issue. I did some major sucking up. I would send pizzas in once a month.

I didn’t give the staff any advance notice of my visits. To my relief my folks were always in pretty good shape when I’d pop in.

I think that too many caregivers expect these place to be 4 star hotels. It is what it is. Old people lose stuff constantly, remotes, phones, dentures, shoes, you name it. Staff can only do so much with the resources and manpower they are allotted. The place I used was very good, not cheap, but like all of them I’ve seen it was understaffed, especially at the lower rungs were more help is always needed. So I didn’t hassle them about mom losing her slippers for the fourth time. That was the least of my worries. Things to worry about....Are they safe, clean, clothed, fed and getting the right meds.

My folks could not use phones. I would call and staff would take a cordless phone to them. Conversation was not easy at that point. Don’t hassle staff about electronics that old people can’t handle.

A few weeks before mom died I hired a sitter from visiting angels for 4 hours a day. I kept her on for dad after mom died to help him adjust and move to memory care.

None of this was easy or cheap. I was fortunate that my folks had scrimped and saved (Sofa from 1968 still in living room when I sold the house) their whole lives and I was able to use their funds to take pretty good care of them.

Bottom line I think for long distance caregiving........If at all possible make the trip occasionally to get eyes on the situation. Thank the staff for all they do. Then thank them again.

Establish some good contacts in the facility. Don’t bug them to death but you need some eyes and ears. I’d check in once a week after mom and dad were settled in.

As for this aunt moving, it seems to me her dementia is such that she’d hardly know where she is much less where her son is. I moved my dad near me for the last year of his life. He though he was in a hospital near his home. Good enough. But OMG it was so much easier having him 10 minutes away.
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Reply to Windyridge

TRUST. You need to trust that the people in the Memory Care actually CARE. I live in Kentucky and my Mother is in New York 850 miles away. Speak to the Director and tell them that you expect a weekly email/ call from them just letting you know how your Aunt is doing. If you have the money, hire a Geriatric Care Manager to go check on your Aunt once a week. Or call the nearest college and see if they have a nursing student program where a nursing student could go visit your Aunt and maybe earn college credit? But the main thing is TRUST. TRUST that the people in your Aunt's facility CARE. HUGS :-)
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to LonelyOnlyChild

What concerns me most about this particular situation is "her new friend" when it comes to memory care, may become her something other. Don't care what age we are, roommate situations are a challenge. I hope you can tell me that her costs go down quite a lot; otherwise I wouldn't even agree to this move. That to start. ALF vary quite a lot. Something hard to assess when you are not there. And as someone who was only half the state away from my bro, yes, it is very hard. His ALF was STELLAR and everyone and anyone there was helpful. I could always get answers no matter who I talked to or what time of the day. It starts at the top. Their administrator was fabulous.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

Don't waste your time and energy speaking with anyone in the facility but the Director.

Otherwise, everyone else is clueless.

We live in a lazy and don't care generation.
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Reply to haileybug

Contact the director of the facility and enlist her help. You have to go to the top to get results.
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Reply to Susanonlyone

Just a thought, it may also be that your aunt's hearing is not so good, especially over the phone. It is frustrating but as long as you're satisfied that she is safe and well I should just look on any other information as a bonus :)
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Reply to Countrymouse

My mother wasnt as far away as your aunt is, but having the social worker's email address helped.

Would your aunt be able to budget for a local Geriatric Care Manager?
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

I manage long distance by staying in contact with the social worker and nursing groups at the nursing home.

It’s not easy and I seldom connect directly to these groups. Instead, I have to wait for their return calls. They do not consistently return calls. However, when they do, they are patient in answering my questions and deal with my ramblings on while I try to connect dots and figure out more questions that they can help answer. I could let it all frustrate me but at this point, my frustration feels more fleeting because with COVID remaining unaddressed, it’s really not under my control.

My ability to drop in on my mom is not easy. I have to schedule visits and those are limited to ten minutes. So traveling long distance to see her for ten minutes outside of the facilities is worth it because it’s good to see her in person, but I don’t even get to hug or kiss her when I make it. This interaction will be happening less as the months are getting chillier all because of understood fear and lack of control of COVID.

The home also allows for Zoom calls, which have to be scheduled. They last about 15-20
minutes. You can see your loved one and also check in with them about their environment. If your loved one has any psychiatric issues, this may be difficult. Good luck with staying in their good graces while in constant lockdown to protect them from COVID. If they have dementia, you will not likely have any consistency in their stories and you will want to engage the social worker and/or nurses for help from their perspective. Hard to trust any of it since there is controversy around elder care and compensation to take care of our elders.

Hope this helps.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to DBDing

It is sure not easy! I'm trying to help care for my aunt who is 1200 miles away. I've had to rally family friends, people from her church, social assistance networks in her area to help with as many of her needs as possible. It's very frustrating and time consuming. And there is no rewards or appreciation, other than you know you're doing your best for them. Best of luck to you!
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Reply to LosingItToday

I moved my aunt very close to me. It is easy to pop in and pop out. Is that a possiblity for you to get her closer to you? She doesn't seem to know she moved, why not make it easier for you, if at all possible.
My doctor actually saw my stress level drop when I got both mom and aunt into one facility. Mom is gone now, but aunt is still thriving, and I just pop in and out when I can. so much easier. My family doesn't even know that I am making an extra stop after work before going home.
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Reply to MAYDAY
xrayjodib Nov 7, 2020
I keep trying to get her to agree to moving closer to me, however, she still flat out refuses.
She doesn't want to leave her son. She doesn't remember that she hasn't seen him in over a year. She thinks it's only been a few days.
I have told her many times that he is in a homeless shelter.
She will never leave as long as he's around. ☹
We had a person that lived locally that I trusted to keep track of things when I couldn’t be there. Mom couldn’t hold a conversation on the phone and couldn’t relay much to me. But our friend, who we paid, could keep me in the loop.
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Reply to AllOverNow

There needed to be a "team" of caregivers and personal assistants.
Hopefully one you pay to keep an eye out and report to you.
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Reply to Sendhelp

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