Long distance caregiving: Snowbirds, seagulls and pigeons

Posted on September 06, 2011 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

Each year in Florida, we experience the migration of snowbirds -- in a figurative sense. Snowbirds is the term used to describe our northern friends who come to Florida each winter to escape the cold, snow and gray in their hometowns. Most are over the age of 65 and retired.

In the caregiving world, Seagulls and pigeons are terms used to describe long-distance caregivers as noted in this article discussing the challenge of long-distance caregiving.

Are you envisioning the scene from “The Birds” yet?

Humor aside, this article discusses a serious challenge for those of us with aging parents who do not live in the same town.

How do we/will we act when the time comes that a parent needs help?

Or, if you are like me, how will you support a sibling(s) who lives in the same town as your parents?

I haven’t really given this too much thought beyond joking with my siblings and parents about this situation.  “Good Luck! Now you know why I moved away. I’ll come visit when you are in the home.”

As I grow in my understanding of caregiving, I am joking about the topic less and watching and learning from others more.

As the snowbird migration begins in a few months, I imagine several sons and daughters will be in the same situation as I – parents not living close by and who may need some type of support. How will they handle it?  What resources are available to them? What should they do and not do? What information is available? How do you interact with siblings who may be close to parents?

With this initiative, we hope to develop a few tools and solutions to help caregivers – both local and long distance. Perhaps by focusing on this now, we will be better prepared when becoming a caregiver becomes reality.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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