Caregiving Journey

My caregiving journey started when my parents moved into a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2004. My dad had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a few years earlier and my mom knew she would need help caring for him based on her experience with her own mother who also suffered from the disease. Once they got established in Florida, they updated their estate plan and documents. I was set up as executor of their will and given both power of attorney and health care power of attorney roles.

By 2008 my dad’s condition had worsened to the point my mom needed to get him into assisted living. That was when my role went from consultant to active manager. He passed away a year later. My mom stayed in their apartment in independent living for another eight years, carrying out their original plan to age in place. But theory and reality are different.

When one spouse passes and the other is alone - even in a CCRC - life gets difficult. As a widow, her "mild cognitive impairment" worsened and I ended up managing just about every aspect of her life. In 2017 we finally moved her into assisted living in Columbus, Ohio, where my husband and I live, as well as my younger brother and his wife.

Because most of these transitions occurred while I lived in another state, it made a tough situation harder. At the same time, the distance forced me to get really organized, but it took a while to put all the pieces together into a caregiving system.

Even though she is much closer to me geographically, I still manage many aspects of her care as if she was still living in Florida because I often travel for work and the demands of my job makes it difficult for me to see her more than once per week. The caregiving system I set up to manage her care from >1,000 miles away, still works well at <100 miles away.

I wrote Managing Elder Care from Afar: A Practical Guide for Busy People to share this caregiving system with everyone facing these same challenges. I hope it is a helpful resource for you!