Health Care for Parents Who Live Away

Caring for aging parents may be easier and a lot less traumatic than you think with advice from the experts. Here are some tips from Denise Talbot-White, Gerontology Specialist at the Mature Market Institute at MetLife, on what to do when your parents need care and they're far away:

• Before the need arises, it's a good idea to talk with your parents. Make suggestions but avoid dictating.

• Know your parent's health history, current medications and names of doctors and hospitals.

• Know where the important legal papers are located. Ask if they have a will, a living will and a durable power of attorney. Know their attorney's name and phone number.

• Do they have long-term care insurance? Where is the policy located? What does it cover?

• Do they have the financial resources to obtain in-home care or nursing home care, should the need arise?

• Learn what resources may be available. Align with local support systems before problems arise. The town senior center may be one source of information.

• Visit assisted living and nursing home facilities in your parents' area and in your area, should it become necessary to move your parents.

• Depending on the situation, you may find it appropriate to apply for a facility and place your parents on a waiting list.

• You may want to consider obtaining a geriatric care manager. Retaining a care manager does not imply a lack of compassion-having to manage work, home and family is difficult for all caregivers.

For a fee, care managers help to ensure that all facets of a loved one' s care are addressed. Contact the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers for a list of qualified mangers, at 520-881-8008.

• Call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116, 9am to 8pm ET. They will provide you with the phone numbers for your state's Department on Aging and your local area agency on aging.

• National organizations-AARP offers a large variety of resources and information online at or phone 800-424-3410.

• Homecare agencies-the National Association for Home Care can assist with location of homecare agencies in your parents' area. Find them on the Web at or call 202-547-7424.

You can never be 100 percent prepared for any caregiving situation but organizing and researching eldercare information and resources prior to the situation will give you peace of mind.

The MetLife Mature Market Institute, and the National Alliance for Caregiving, have compiled a publication, "Resources for Caregivers." Single copies are available free of charge by calling 203-221-6580 or E-mail to MMIÐ

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