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Long Distance Caregiving, Hiring a Caregiver, and Medicare

Many adult children no longer live in close proximity to their parents. Often times either children or parents relocate due to employment or retirement. If a parent falls ill, the task of caring for the parent in a long distance capacity may be very difficult and stressful. Moreover, long distance caregiving is a time-consuming endeavor.

There are many things an adult child or family member may do to make long distance caregiving feasible. The first thing that should be done is for the adult child or family member to determine if relocation is a possibility. Either the ill parent may relocate or the adult child or family member may relocate. However, due to employment and other family issues, relocation may not be feasible for either party. Second, the adult child or family member should obtain the parent’s medical, financial, and legal information. When dealing with institutions and hospitals on a long distance basis it is sometimes much easier to have all of the parent’s information at one’s disposal to answer questions. Third, the adult child or family member should be sensitive to the parent’s view and condition.

Hiring a Caregiver

If it is determined that it would be more feasible for the parent to stay in their home, then the adult child or family member may opt to hire a caregiver. There are many questions that should be asked of the agency and/or individual caregiver prior to hiring the caregiver. Some questions that may be asked include:

    • If dealing with an agency, is the agency certified?
    • How long has the agency been in business?
    • Has the proposed caregiver ever had any complaints lodged against her?
    • What is the cost involved with the caregiving service?
    • What type of services are provided?
    • Does the parent have to sign a contract?

Home caregivers can be quite costly and are typically not covered by insurance and may or may not be covered under Medicare or Medicaid. If the agency that the caregiver is from is certified then Medicare or Medicaid may be available, depending upon the parent’s financial situation.

Medicare Home Health Care Coverage

In order to qualify for Medicare home health care coverage the parent must meet four conditions.

    1. The doctor must determine that medical care is needed in the home, must prepare a plan, and must review the plan every 60 days.
    2. The parent must need intermittent skilled nursing care or physical or speech therapy.
    3. The parent must be homebound.
    4. Medicare must approve the agency.

If the parent qualifies, Medicare will cover:

    • Skilled nursing care, but not 24-hour care.
    • Home health aide services on an intermittent basis.
    • Physical and speech therapy.
    • Occupational therapy.
    • Medical social services.
    • Medical supplies, but not prescriptions.
    • Some medical equipment.


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