How I moved my father across the country

For Elaina H. — a family caregiver from Buffalo — caregiving for her father has been a journey of caring for a loved one from afar, navigating a cancer diagnosis, and managing the complexities of care while staying on top of life’s many other responsibilities. 


Elaina’s caregiving journey began when her 85-year old father, living on the opposite coast in California, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. This sudden event introduced both the fear and uncertainty that comes with a cancer diagnosis, but also the logistical nightmare of managing care from thousands of miles away. Her father lived with his wife (Elaina’s stepmother), who started facing her own set of health issues as well.

Because her dad and stepmother never had any major health issues up and were quite active, Elaina and her four siblings had never strongly considered what caring for them long-distance might look like. Elaina recalled the moment she realized just how complex the situation was saying, “He'd been in California for a very long time. And there was no support system for him there.” 

Elaina and her siblings had a lot of questions – Does Dad move here? How do we convince him a move is necessary? Which sibling would he move closest to?

Eventually, they decided that their father and stepmother would move to Annapolis, MD, where Elaina’s sister lived. This decision took into account a multitude of factors, and they actively included their father in the discussion — making sure he’d be happy in his new home. 

Even still, Elaina had no idea about all the pieces involved in moving her father – getting a new insurance plan, finding doctors who took their insurance plan, and determining the best insurance plans for their needs (to name just a few of the pressing questions her family faced).


“One of the toughest challenges was to set up the healthcare for them when they got to Annapolis. We had to make sure their care didn’t miss a beat. We couldn’t wait until they moved to find new providers.”


When Elaina discovered that she had covered access to Wellthy through her employer, she said, “That felt like the first piece of good news in a while.” It offered a path forward, and helped make sure that her parents’ health didn’t suffer in the process of moving.

Jessica, Elaina's Wellthy Care Coordinator, became a crucial part of the solution – she offered both logistical support and peace of mind to Elaina’s family. Elaina’s parents aren’t tech savvy, so one of the first things Jessica did was schedule a call to speak with them individually. Jessica explained everything and answered all of their questions — putting them completely at ease with what she was doing and the information she was providing.


“The first thing Jessica did for us was look into various insurance plans. She presented a few options and made her recommendation as to which one was best for us. Once my dad relocated to Annapolis, Jessica also set up initial doctor visits and had all his medical records transferred. Having never been a caregiver before, I had no idea how much was involved in a transfer of care.”


Besides Jessica, Elaina gets most of her support from her family. What’s really helped them get along is keeping their father at the center of their decisions. 

Elaina says, “We listen to what Dad says. For instance, he’s told us that he doesn't want any heroic measures for the end of his life. If he hadn’t said that, I think my sister would’ve wanted to do anything to extend his life. Going off of what he says has been a big way that we’ve been able to stay on the same page about his care.”


“My dad loves all the providers he has in Annapolis. He feels so comfortable and secure. I don't know where we would be right now without Wellthy. His chemo radiation starts soon. Everything has gone as smoothly as it possibly could have, thanks to Jessica getting everything set up for us.”


Elaina’s story is not uncommon – so many families are caring for a loved one from afar, even across country borders. Her advice to other caregivers in the same situation is to rely on the resources they have available – including Wellthy. 

Elaina's final piece of advice? “Reach out, ask questions, and follow others’ advice because it’s so new for so many people.”


If you’re caring for a loved one from afar, learn more about what tools and solutions might be available to you by joining our webinar on April 24th: Global Caregiving: Bridging Borders and Cultures Within Workplace Benefits. During this session, we’ll look at caregiving across time zones, states, and country borders, as well as offer valuable insights for families.