Helping from a Distance

What Mattie Did To Help From A Distance.

This is the second part of Mattie’s Story.  In our last article, we discussed Mattie’s struggle to help her Mom from a distance. Today we discuss the specific steps that Mattie took to help from a distance. Mattie’s Story was borrowed from our upcoming Mom Centered Family Meeting Book (coming soon…)

Mattie and Mary (Mattie’s Mom) talk to each other by phone at least 3 times every week. Recently however, Mattie has noticed that things are somehow different. Mary seemed a bit confused and repeated herself several times. At first, Mattie thought that this was just as a result of Mary having an off day or being tired. However, after a few similar conversations, Mattie knew that her Mom was having some difficulties and that she needed to take action.

Fortunately Mattie came across our book in her local bookstore and immediately began taking the actions discussed in the Remote Caregiver Helping from a Distance chapter. For those who love taking notes, here’s the short list:

Keys for Remote Caregivers Helping from a Distance

  1. Personal Observation
  2. Mom’s Preferences
  3. Professional Assessments
  4. Local Help
  5. Place the Proper Systems in Place

Personal Observation

Mattie took a week off from her job and flew home. She knew that she had to see Mom face to face in order to figure out what was going on. Mattie knew her Mom well and she was able to immediately see some areas where Mom obviously needed assistance. 

Mom’s Preferences

Mattie and Mom had a heart-to-heart, eyeball-to-eyeball talk. That was the most important part about this whole process. Mattie could see that Mom was declining physically and cognitively but they were still able to clearly communicate. Mattie did not have to guess; she was able to talk to Mom about the assistance needed now and what Mom’s preferences were for the future.

Professional Assessments

Mattie was able to get Mom in to see her local primary care physician that week. The physician adjusted Mom’s medications and prescribed physical therapy. Mattie also booked an appointment with a Geriatric Care Physician and plans to come home for this visit which is scheduled out 6 months from now.

Local Help

Mattie only had a week to take action. She did what she could but knew that she had to enlist the help of some local individuals who could help Mom with certain tasks and regularly monitor her condition. Fortunately, Mattie’s childhood friend Martha, still lived in town. Martha also was friends with Mom. Everyone agreed that Martha would check in with Mom every few days and would communicate with Mattie weekly. Additionally, with Mom’s permission, Mattie hired non- medical home care aides to come in for four hours every day to help with the morning and evening routine.

Place the Proper Systems in Place

It was obvious to Mattie that some systems needed to be put into place. Today’s technology allows us to be very productive when helping from a distance. A couple of things were installed immediately:

  1. Mattie had a camera system installed so that she could see Mom and her environment and monitor what was happening, even on her cell phone. Being able to see Mom at home helped a lot.
  2. Medication reminder system.
  3. A wearable help button that Mom can press to call first-responders should she need assistance.

Mattie knows that these systems in place are only a temporary solution to a more permanent problem. Mary is declining and the situation will get worse and will require more actions as time goes on. Even though she is an only child, Mattie is implementing all of the steps of the Mom Centered Family Meeting (MCFM) as discussed in that book. She knows that it is critical for Mom to develop and implement the best going forward plan possible.

Making a Determination from a Distance

If you live a distance from Mom and only see her in person a couple of times per year, it’s hard to know whether she is declining or not. Sometimes, it’s obvious. If your Mom has a stroke, a heart attack, a fall, or some major health event, you may know instantly. Sometimes the change is gradual. It’s more of a feeling that you get when you talk to Mom that leaves you wondering, “Is she really declining? Does she need my help or is she OK? Should I go out there and check on her?”  

You have probably already taken several steps to make the life of your Loved One better. Hopefully you have picked up a tip or two from this article to help even more.

Next Step

Please drop a comment below to let me know what you have done while helping from a distance to more effectively manage the care of a declining parent.

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Thank You for being a Caregiver for Your Loved One – you are making a huge difference in their life!

About the Author

Doug & his wife Cindy have not only helped hundreds of families with their estate planning and elder law needs over the years, but have personal experience as caregivers and advocates for their Loved Ones as well.

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