National Older Americans Month began in 1963 and is now observed every May. At the time of its creation, about one-third of all American seniors lived in poverty, and there were few government programs to assist them. In fact, Medicare had not even been created. Thankfully, seniors are faring much better today and there are more abundant resources available to help them, although there is still much work to be done.
This month-long celebration involves honoring senior adults and the many ways they contribute to society and to the lives of others. National Older Americans Month also calls for communities and adult family members of older adults to get involved. What if, however, your senior loved one lives out of town? Let us share five tips to help you support them.
- Maintain Good Communication. Call often and visit as often as you can. Encourage other family members and friends to do the same. It is not just a nice thing to do, but regular communication helps prevent isolation, and can identify unmet needs. If your Older American does not like to have prolonged telephone conversations or has a hard time beginning them, consider trying some leading questions. For example, you could ask: “What’s on the agenda for this afternoon?” or “How was your appointment with Dr. Smith?”
- Keep a Caregiver Notebook. Create an online digital notebook of doctors, health providers, insurance agents, friends, neighbors, and other important contacts for an elder loved one. Do not wait to share it with other family members and your loved one. Be sure to let him or her know how valuable this can be and work with him or her if the technology side of this caregiver notebook is hard for him or her to use at first. After you become familiar with working together on this project, keeping an up-to-date online calendar can also be helpful.
- Enlist Local Support. One way to hedge against emergencies is to develop relationships with key individuals who are in regular contact with an older family member. These people can include neighbors, care providers, doctors, support group members, and even church members. Try to develop a friendly, two-way communication along with developing a plan for communication in a crisis.
- Daily Assistance. Long distance relationships are difficult at any age. For out-of-town seniors, however, it is important to build up their care network in their community. Consider coordinating with various organizations and individuals to schedule frequent assistance, such as meal deliveries, driving to appointments, social visits, and check-ups from home health aides.
- Other Family Members. Keeping up with an out-of-town senior loved one can be a lot for any single person to handle. If possible, involve other family members to help with communication, health care, financial, and legal responsibilities. As a team, you can accomplish so much more than you can alone. This also will ensure you have a back-up in the event you take a vacation or are sick for a period of time.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. In our experience, planning forward to help Older Americans navigate the challenges they might face now or in the future is essential to ensure everyone has peace of mind. Do not wait to contact our practice and schedule an appointment to learn how we may work together to find the right solutions for you and your family.
At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones. We even provide a unique educational and counseling process so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.
If you would like more information on Elder Law, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, or the impact of new health care laws on your health care coverage, request your free preview of our guide, the Senior & Boomers’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty.
We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. By attending our workshop, you will also be entitle to more than $900 in valuable benefits, including your choice of books, DVDs and more! Call 800-964-4295 (24/7)