Long Distance Caregiving: Part I

Helping a Loved One Make a Major Move 

At SelectCare, many of our clients live hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away from their nearest relative or adult child, however good communication and a willingness to have honest conversations with an older loved one can go a long way towards being a dedicated Long Distance Caregiver.

Today, we wanted to revisit a long distance caregiving relationship near and dear to our hearts – the relationship between SelectCare Vice President Carla Holub-Tarantino and her mother, Alice DeFranco.  When we last checked in, we covered an important discussion about introducing home care services into Alice and her husband Peter’s home after Peter became ill.

After a long battle with his illness, Peter passed away in December of last year, well cared for, in the comfort of his own bed with his dedicated wife and caregiver nearby.

In today’s post, we wanted to talk about the next step in Alice’s life – after spending 40 years in a condo in southern California, Alice decided she wanted to live closer to her children and made a major change – moving 1,500 miles east to a senior living complex a few minute drive from her second daughter, Melissa.

Making a Major Decision

When a loved one passes away, it’s not uncommon to receive advice like “don’t do anything drastic for at least six months,” but Alice, a Registered Nurse, teacher, and real estate agent, evaluated her living situation and decided pulling up stakes would be her safest option.

When her husband became ill, Alice was a dedicated caregiver for more than three years, spending much of that time as Peter’s sole bedside companion. After his passing, she asked herself who would step in and support her if she were to suddenly fall ill.Long Distance Moving

“Carla and Melissa would do whatever is takes to help if I became ill,” Alice said. “But, they live at least six hours away by plane. I still want my independence, but I’m not foolish enough to believe that I don’t need someone near. I want to live on my own, in my own apartment, run the AC all day and I want to read until midnight.  But I also know that at age 85, there might be a time when I need someone nearby who can be called.”

Moving 40 Years of History at 85

With the decision to move made and having taken a trip to Oklahoma (a more cost-effective option than the Empire State) to visit possible new homes, Alice was then presented with a challenge – not only would she need to sell her condo, she would need to do major downsizing in order to transport her belongings to her new home.

Alice set to work in spring of 2016 with a pallet of cardboard boxes and support from those around her who she trusted the most to help her downsize her belongings:

  • Friends and neighbors: Alice and Pete always enjoyed having friends over for meals and parties.  When she began downsizing, Alice took note of items she had received compliments on from her guests and presented them as “going away” gifts.
  • Her local support team:  While caring for Pete, Alice hired a trustworthy agency to help maintain her home.  When it came time to move, she contacted the agency’s owner, Rose, and asked for her help in finding homes for the items she didn’t plan to take.  Rose knew a family that had lost everything in a fire, as well as local non-profits that accepted donations. Alice said that knowing her possessions would make such a huge difference in the lives of another family made a huge difference in how she felt about the move.
  • Her real estate team:  Ever the businesswoman, Alice thought of an ingenious way to discard bulky pieces of furniture without them ever leaving her condo – she reached out to the couple purchasing her home through her real estate agent and asked them if they had seen any furniture that they liked. It turned out that they had their eyes on some of the most difficult to move pieces in her house, including a silverware hutch, two tables, and ten chairs, resulting in Alice receiving a “nice check” for simply leaving the furniture where it lay.
  • Tech-savvy relatives:  For smaller niche items that didn’t carry as much sentimental value, like juice cups and other household items, Alice turned to her granddaughter and E-Bay expert Kendra, who created an account and managed online auctions.

The Final Push – 7 days, 1 truck, and 1,500 Miles

Next week, we will cover the second part of Alice’s story, with Carla and Melissa flying in for a week of packing and cross-country trucking, tips for managing the emotional challenges of making such a major move, and a look forward as Alice builds her new life in Oklahoma.

At SelectCare, helping families support their loved ones is more than a business, it’s what makes us who we are long after the office is closed.  To learn more about SelectCare, receive advice about being a better long distance caregiver, or to find out how we can help your family, call us today.