Mapping Out Long Distance Caregiving

Caregiving is difficult but the more miles between you and your loved one, the more complicated things can be. But there are things you can do and services available to help you help your loved one, no matter the distance between you.

Whether you are currently in the caregiving trenches or thinking about the future, there are steps you can take to make things easier for everyone.

Step 1 – Start Talking
Although it may be difficult, you need to have conversations about finances. When the time comes to pay for services, where is that funding going to come from? You also need access. Doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, banks, even the utility company cannot give you information or access to accounts without permission. Help your loved one fill out the paperwork and make the calls to give you access. You don’t have to use it now, but if you ever need to, you can easily access everything. Address legal issues. Your loved one should have a durable power of attorney for health care and finances. It doesn’t have to be you, but if no one is defined, the courts will have to step in if your loved one is ever incapacitated. Have a basic plan for emergencies. Consider giving house keys and alarm codes to a trusted neighbor or friend who lives nearby. Trade contact information so that you can communicate in the event of an emergency.

Step 2 – Build a Team
Reach out to friends and family in the area to see if they would be willing to help. Find out what types of community resources are available to assist. Consider hiring professionals to help with certain tasks. Next make a list of tasks and determine who will be responsible for what. Finally create a roster of contact information for everyone involved in care, be it the helpful neighbor who cuts the grass, the agency delivering daily meals, or the hired house cleaner. Be sure to leave your contact information with everyone as well.

You may want to consider hiring a local care manager who can help bridge the distance. A qualified care manager can help manage logistics for you. They are also a great resource for connecting with area organizations that can help. Be sure you find someone reliable. Check their credentials and discuss area of expertise as well as scope of service. Finally, consider the costs. Health insurance typically does not cover this type of service, but an experienced care manager may be able to save you time, money, and stress with even a brief consultation.

Step 3 – Stay Connected
Make sure you communicate regularly with your loved one and their local care team. Think about ways in which technology can help. With your loved one’s permission their care team can communicate with you. Call and ask for updates. Perhaps you can “attend” appointments via Facetime or Skype. Consider a personal emergency response system. These types of devices can call for help if there is a fall or other event. If your loved one is dealing with a chronic condition ask their physician if home telemonitoring might be helpful.

Step 4 – Make the Most of Visits
While you may not be able to be there day to day, you can still get a lot accomplished on visits. Schedule important appointments when you are going to be in town. Being there in person also gives you the opportunity to see if and where additional help might be needed. Maybe the lawn is overgrown or the fridge is empty. You can help out while you are there, but you can also find someone locally to assist on a more every day basis. A face to face visit also gives you the opportunity to see if there are any new or progressing medical issues affecting your loved one. This will allow you to make plans for future needs before there is an emergency.

Finally make sure to spend quality time with your loved one when you visit. Go out to dinner, take a walk, or simply sit on the couch and chat. Being together can be the best medicine.

How can Home Health United help?


VoiceCare is a personal emergency response system that allows subscribers to maintain their independence while providing a connection to help should the need arise. In the event of a fall or other emergency, activating VoiceCare will alert monitoring center personnel who will then contact subscriber, designated individuals, or emergency services as needed. Learn more.

Telehealth or home telemonitoring helps patients with chronic conditions by providing a consistent connection to healthcare professionals. In-home monitoring devices are used to collect vital information based on the patient’s health condition. This information is then securely transmitted to the healthcare team for review. If the data is outside established parameters for the patient, the system alerts the team which allows for early interventions and treatment adjustments before a more significant health event occurs. Learn more.

SAFE at Home
Home Health United, in partnership with the United Way of Dane County, provides in-home safety assessments for Dane County residents 60+. These assessments focus on reducing falls by addressing unsafe home environments and negative drug interactions. Live outside of Dane County or under 60? Contact us for an Information Visit to find out ways Home Health United can help. Learn more.

Meals On Wheels
Homebound and disabled individuals living in Madison, Middleton, Monona, and Sun Prairie can receive daily mid-day meals through Home Health United Meals On Wheels. In addition to a nutritious lunch, meal delivery also provides a safety check. In the event a recipient does not answer for a meal, volunteers are instructed to alert Home Health United staff who then to contact the individual and their emergency contact. If necessary, public safety officials are contacted to follow up with a secondary safety check. Learn more.

Informational Visits
Home Health United offers Informational Visits to anyone interested in learning more about our services and how we can help you or your loved one. Contact us online or call 1-800-924-2273 to schedule a visit today.