DISTANCE AND PROFESSIONALISM
The New York Times ran an article on December 23, 2015 discussing the distance that the average American lives from their mother. As revealed in longitudinal study published in 2010, half of Americans live 18 miles or less from their their mother. As shown in the graph plotting these distances, the half of Americans who live less than 18 miles usually live extremely close. 40 percent live five miles or less. It seems as if the 40 percent and five mile mark is where the divergence occurs. 55 percent live less than 28, 60 percent live at least 47 miles or less, 65 percent live 80 miles or less and 70 percent live 129 miles. Depending on whether you live in the suburbs, the far suburbs, rural America or in the inner city with a reliable and timely public transportation system, these percentages and distances mean different things. 128 miles is not insurmountable and is actually a common commute if you live in Philadelphia and have to commute to Manhattan.
If you live in Southern New Jersey and have to battle the daily commute to Manhattan the same 128 miles is entirely different. Other factors also play out in your ability to see your parents as often as you want or need to. If you are a busy emergency room physician, working 24 hour shifts, you may not be able to see them anywhere near as often as need be or as you want. If your parents rely on you for basic assistance with medical issues or long term care decision making and you cannot dedicate the time to help them, you may want to consider a relatively under utilized service in the form of a geriatric care manager. In addition to assisting their clients and families make informed decisions, they are professionals who almost always work in the community and have a better working knowledge of different issues that may crop up with one provider or facility but not another.
YOUR EYES AND EARS
Geriatric care managers can be your eyes and ears to insure that all kinds of unexpected issues are addressed immediately, before they become problems. They can help your parent review their mail or go over their financial documents to insure that they are not being fleeced or taken advantage of. They can help to avoid dangerous medicines or combination of medicines. They will very likely have a better working knowledge of your parent’s medical conditions than perhaps a new family physician or specialist. One added blessing, but often unconsidered or overlooked consideration is that parents, no matter what age, do not always tell their children their medical issues or express the full breadth of their concerns and issues. Some individuals may be more likely to open up to professionals that they form a good working relationship with.
As with any decision affecting the health and well being of an elderly parent or relative, it is always best to consult with an experienced elder law attorney before any decision is made.