Due to the distance, you might not be able to make it to every single doctor’s appointment. However, there are ways to stay updated on your loved one’s medical care that doesn’t necessitate a road trip.
Although you have taken on a long-distance caregiving role, there will likely be someone taking care of your loved one when you can’t, whether it is a family member, friend, or an in-home caregiver. In order to track and manage their healthcare remotely, work together to create a notebook of doctor visits and medications. Obtain copies of your loved one’s medical records, but understand that due to HIPPA laws, you will require legal rights and/or consent from your loved one to do so.
Make it Legal
No matter how nicely you ask, or how many times you explain that you are your loved one’s caregiver, without some sort of power of attorney you won’t get very far in regards to accessing medical information. In the instance that your loved one is still able to give verbal and written consent, there are three power of attorney options/combinations to look into:
- General – gives you the authority to act on your loved one’s behalf regarding things such as banking, investment, insurance, etc.
- Special – gives you the authority to act on your loved one’s behalf only regarding specific situations outlined in the document
- Healthcare – gives you the authority to act on your loved one’s behalf regarding medical treatment decisions, as well as view medical records (some doctor’s offices will still require signed consent)
Depending on your loved one’s current or future status, you might consider making the power of attorney durable to extend your authority in the event that your loved one is mentally incompetent at the time it expires. Keep in mind that in order to sign a power of attorney, your loved one must fully understand what they are doing. If they are unable to sign, you may still be able to become a conservator, but you must go through a lengthy court process to do so.
If possible, attend the first doctor appointment with your loved one, as it also serves as a get to know you meeting and gives the doctor a face to put with a name. Use this meeting to discuss the best ways to communicate, whether it is phone or email. Since you won’t be able to attend every appointment, send a list of questions or concerns you have to the doctor before the appointment.
Long-distance caregiving adds a slight obstacle when it comes to staying in the loop. However, with a little organization and a lot of communication, you can stay on top of your loved one’s medical care.