How to Navigate Caring for an Elderly Parent from Afar

An Eldercare Success Story: From Bedridden to Bingo

Anyone who has ever been involved in eldercare knows it is a journey filled with ups and downs. Our family’s bumpy eldercare journey has been set in the unique times of COVID-19.

COVID and an Eldercare Crisis

Well, the coronavirus pandemic coincided with Dad’s own crisis. He’d likely been having mini-strokes (TIAs) and the start of vascular dementia. However, it seems he had another (bigger?) TIA and he also fell. Suddenly, his partner was calling saying she could not get him out of bed. And, of course, being the early days of the pandemic lockdown we could not fly there to check on or arrange things. Dad could not return to his Independent Living Facility due to restrictions (and would have needed extra care anyway).

Putting Together a Plan

We began formulating a longer-term plan with our Care Coach. Clearly, the burden on Dad’s 90-year-old partner was not sustainable. And, the situation was not ideal as she complained a lot about the caregivers being in her space. He was isolated–of course, everyone was at the moment–but wouldn’t be in the long run, hopefully. Ultimately, we determined the ALF associated with Dad’s ILF was where he’d need to be.

Back Home

We began talking to the community staff about how to manage the transition. Everything was a bit different due to COVID. Dad could now go back to his original apartment, but without any family there to visit/help. He’d need to quarantine in his apartment. Then, he could be evaluated for admission to the ALF. Clearly, he would need continued private caregivers during this period. He actually needed more care, even when he was with his partner, but certainly now that he’d be alone.

The Transition to Assisted Living

Our Care Coach helped us arrange the evaluation day. Dad’s caregivers took him down to the ALF. She arranged a call beforehand so we could give information to the ALF staff. She gathered a comprehensive report from his various caregivers. We (me, my brother, our care coach and the ALF manager) reviewed Dad’s current status and needs. Together with their in-person evaluation, they understood what he would need. They suggested starting with his current schedule of caregivers for the first week and then re-evaluating his level of care.

Steering through the Challenges

But, this is reality. Though things have gone surprisingly well, there have been some bumps all along. A couple times Dad has been pretty unpleasant with the caregivers in the mornings. After one particularly bad morning, we began to worry the facility would kick him out. I called our Care Coach and she reassured us and helped us come up with a plan. We asked the caregivers to adjust the schedule slightly. And, we told them they didn’t need to push him if he was tired or grumpy, though we preferred he got up and ate meals with others (though currently in a small room and distanced) when possible.

Eldercare Success=Dad Being Content

We are realistic about Dad’s situation. He is declining and will have ups and downs. Dad may have bad moments and rarely remembers what happened earlier in the day.

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