Caring for a Loved Elder from a Distance

If you have a loved elder in your life who doesn’t live near you, it can prove challenging to keep an eye on the care they are receiving in a nursing home, from an in-home caregiver, or even from another family member. For example, if you live in San Diego and your elderly mother or father lives in Northern California, you may find yourself worrying about their wellbeing because you can’t physically be there to check up on them as often as you’d like.

distance.jpgYour frustrations and/or concerns are warranted. Elder abuse in California is an epidemic, making it a harsh reality to face. However, there are a few things that you can do that may help calm your fears from the long distance.

First, stay in touch via phone. You can often pick up a lot about a person’s wellbeing via their tone. You may be able to detect tones of stress, or tell if they are sick. It’s not a bad idea to take notes during your call so you will be able to track any deterioration in cognition, or mood which may indicate a medical condition, neglect, or elder abuse.

It is also wise to learn as much as you can about your loved elder’s medical history, including any history of illness, current treatments they are receiving, and medications they are taking so that you can monitor recovery, and notify proper authorities if a loved elder residing in a California nursing home appears to be having difficulty recovering, or takes a noticeable turn for the worse.

You should consider trying to schedule doctor’s appointments, with your loved one, during the times that you are able to visit. If you are able to do so, bring any questions you have for the physician with you to the appointment. These may include questions about medications, drug interactions, possible side effects, dosages, and medication schedules.

You may even be able to obtain permission via consent from your loved elder to speak with their physician when necessary. A release form will need to be filled out, but this way you will be able to contact that physician with any concerns about your loved one, or to see if they have been seen for any unexplained injuries, bruising, or signs of neglect, including malnutrition or dehydration.

It is important to note that even if you live far away from your loved elder, you should always report any suspicions of mistreatment, neglect, physical abuse, mental or emotional abuse that you suspect. You should report suspicions or signs of abuse in San Diego to:

• The local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney’s office. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at (619) 531-4040.
• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provide a 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline at (800) 231-4024.
• Adult Protective Services (APS), in San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660.

Christopher C. Walton was named to the 2014 Southern California Super Lawyer List, and also named a 2014 Top Attorney in San Diego, California. Walton Law, APC focuses its practice on nursing home abuse, elder abuse, & neglect. If you believe you or somebody you know has been subjected to abuse or neglect while residing in a Southern California nursing home, contact Chris at (866) 338-7079 for a free and confidential consultation.