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Recently I read some good advice here about keeping a list of what long distance siblings can do to help the other sibling in the trenches; Things that don’t require being in the same town as the elder parent.


I would love to see suggestions especially from those who are successfully managing long distance care.


My sister retired early about 6 months ago. She now has some time to help, and in the past has expressed she wants to help she just doesn’t know what to do.


What are some things I can ask her to help with, within reason? Her career involved working with medical executives on the business end of healthcare, not on the hands-on care end of things.


Can anyone share what has worked for them?

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Have her come so that you can take a vacations/breaks. It doesn't matter that hands-on caregiving isn't her "specialty". She can learn, especially if she was an exec. And it might be more "tolerable" to her if it's only for a long weekend, or a week or two. You need breaks and finding a replacement is time-consuming and expensive. Train her into that role while your mom is easier to care for. I read your comment that you'd prefer your mom went to your sister's, so if you can make that work (including financially) that'd be so good for you...but as your mom declines will become more work to prepare for that and more disruptive to your mom. Whatever works so you can get regular breaks.

Also, in our family my elderly in-laws were broke so the out-of-towners were very happy to send necessities like clothes, etc. They would make care packages with goodies in them, or sent cards, and made more calls to my inlaws just to chat with them.
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ExhaustedPiper Oct 15, 2020
That's a very good suggestion about "training" my sister now so she can come and give respite when my mom can no longer travel at all. I don't know when that will be, but it's probably not all that far off. Even now she has assistance the entire time. I think my sister would be willing to do a long weekend.

Sometimes I forget, or don't realize how things have progressed. The other day a "memory" thing popped up on my Facebook from two years ago. I looked at that picture and it FELT like 20 years ago!

I think I will talk to my DH about where we could go for a weekend.

Thanks Geaton!
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So many things can be done online and by phone and email. Food Shopping. Prescriptions. Making Appointments. Monitoring cameras. Routine phone calls to parent. Holiday /birthday shopping. Taxes. Reminders for filter changes or other home maintenance chores or repairs. Research of meds, medical conditions, caregivers, medical providers etc. paying bills, balancing checkbook.comparing insurance policies, monitoring lab work. Having someone intimately involved with the minutiae could be very helpful.
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ExhaustedPiper Oct 15, 2020
Yes! All those things are helping me brainstorm so thank you!

Comparing insurance policies- that is right up my sister's alley! On the list!
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I second the phone calls. It took me a long time to deal with certain phone calls.

I would also say to call your mom if she has a good relationship with her. I constantly heard about siblings that barely called.

My mom sends out cards for birthdays and Christmas. Due to her Parkinson’s disease, she could no longer write so I did it. So, she could shop and mail cards if your mom does this too.

Visiting every so often so you can take a break!
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ExhaustedPiper Oct 15, 2020
Good ideas NHWM.

I know my siblings hardly ever call. Now that isolation is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for my mom I wish they would call more.

I'm going to talk to my sister about it, I think she will make an effort. My brother will just get annoyed.

The visits. Hmm. What I really want is for my sister to have my mom visit her at her place. Otherwise, I get no break. I actually get more work because it turns out that I'm the one hosting company, not my mom. So far I have not been successful in this area, but now that I have gone through a couple "visits" that were miserable, I'm going to get more assertive.
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I would have very much appreciated if my sister-in-law would have offered to assist me by making phone calls. Simple as that! MIL was in an ALF for 6 years, and currently a SNF (4 years). Sister-in-law would always defer to me because I am local. Baloney! Administrative calls are administrative calls. I spent hours each week on the phone fielding problems.

Good luck and hang in there!
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ExhaustedPiper Oct 15, 2020
Yes, that is the kind of stuff I am talking about!

When I told my sister that my mom "hated" her neurologist because she didn't like the results of her testing my sister said "Let her get a second opinion".

My mom's evaluation was six hours long over two days. Pre-consult, post consult, it was somewhat of an ordeal. So I told my sister- Go ahead, arrange for a second test. You don't have to be local to make those phone calls.

She then dropped the subject.

That was last year. Now she has more time, knows my mom is worse and has told me to tell her when I need help.

Phone calls goes on the list!
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If you pay your LO’s bills by checking, she can have the bills sent directly to her and pay them.

My LO’s TWO POAs have a checking account in her name, listing each of us as an independent POA.

You could also set up a credit card with the LO and sister I think, with the assumption that the credit card be used for NOTHING EXCEPT LO’s expenses.
If you choose to explore that option, I would check it out with a lawyer before doing it.

I’m also my LO’s designated payee for her Social Security, and her check goes right into the POA account.

As you’re probably aware, you need to be fastidious with keeping LO’s funds and care expenses separate from any other bills.

Hope my comments might be helpful!
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ExhaustedPiper Oct 15, 2020
Thank you Ann. Right now my mom is paying her own bills. Many years ago she set up automatic bill pay with Quicken and she still uses it. I've had to help her with recovering her password a few times, but other than that it's still working out.

I fully agree on keeping good records though. When the day comes that I pay her bills I plan to open an account and manually write the checks and opt to receive paper statements so I have 100% accountability of every cent spent.
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