Author Topic: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother  (Read 2443 times)

dodojojo

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Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« on: November 28, 2017, 02:05:20 PM »
Just got off phone with my mom as she told me about a pile of letters concerning her social security and medicare benefits.  It was, again, a sh!t show as my mom is not fluent in English and is a complete luddite.  She tried to read some of the letters over the phone to me but let's just say an effort in frustration would be a mild description.For some things I can help her as I signed up for online access to her accounts, but for many things, the news still come by snail mail.

We live on the opposite coasts from each other and I want to streamline the way I can help her out.  Right now, if it's something very important, she just mails the letters to me and we wait 3-4 days to re-connect on the issue. But as we only do this for the VIP stuff, we have also missed out on some things she didn't know was important.  And she ended up losing her health coverage for example. 

She's a senior but she's also really old in her mind--she never joined the information age.  As already mentioned, my mom is a tech luddite as explained in this example.  She has a flip phone and she can make calls.  She is so-so receiving calls. So often I call her, I get hung up and she calls me back.  That's all she can do.  She cannot access her voicemail. So keep this mind as I ask for your advice on how to use technology to keep in touch with her.  So buying her a laptop, teaching her to scan the documents, attach them and emailing them to me is out of the question.

Ideally I would like to set up a tablet with a video conference app.  That way we can communicate and she can show letters/documents to my screen.  I think this is sufficient as you know, 95% of mail is just junk.  I can quickly just spot check them and let her know.  She has slow wifi at home.  The problem of course is to teach her how to use the tablet.  I visit a couple of times a year for a 1-2 weeks.  I'm not confident she would learn to use a tablet in a week's time.  Some ideas I've kicked around that accommodates her lack of tech skills:

1) Set up a tablet with Hangout App on the home screen that way she just touches a button or screen to wake up the device.  I teach her to accept calls and I initiate all calls to streamline process for her.  No device password, no other apps, etc.  KISS.

2) Buy her Echo Show and install Alexa app on my phone.  More expensive and more complicated than a tablet in some ways, but I like the simple drop in video call feature.  It allows me to just call her and she doesn't have to do anything.

3) Set up laptop with camera.  Set up remote access so I can control the laptop on her end.  I should be able to enable camera to come on for her.

4) Set up scanner so she can send me docs but we will not be able to video call/chat.  Not sure how this works if the scanner isn't connected to a PC.

Any ideas or suggestions you have will be welcomed and appreciated.

*Also would like to just keep in better touch with her so she isn't as lonely or isolated.

Zola.

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2017, 02:24:39 PM »
ipad, so easy to use.

I suggest you buy her one, and sit with her and patiently show her how to use it. and setup some free video conferencing software like skype

« Last Edit: November 28, 2017, 02:27:45 PM by Zola. »

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2017, 02:39:42 PM »
Yes, an iPad would fall under idea #1.  I would probably go with an Android as that's what I'm familiar with.  I have a work iPad but I hardly touch it.  I know iPads are easy to use but as I mentioned already, mom has problems using her flip phone...But it seems a simple tablet is the way to go.

My concern is if wifi goes off or she accidently opens something else on the device, then it will be fun to tell her over the phone how to reset everything. 

Zola.

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 03:09:31 PM »
I honestly think an ipad would be easier, everything locked down, more user friendly... you could make a screen with one or two apps on the main screen to minimise any confusion.

jim555

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2017, 03:19:47 PM »
If she gets an Android smartphone with a camera she could take pictures of the docs, which saves them to Google drive.  Google drive has camera scanner built in.  Make sure you both have access to the drive.

Not an Apple user so I can't comment on it.

Zola.

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2017, 03:21:23 PM »
Not a bad suggestion, although the lady in question is a technophobe.

What you just said would probably be terrifying for her !!

jim555

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2017, 03:25:53 PM »
Sounds harder than it is.  I know a few older folks who refuse to learn or keep up with tech and it is puzzling since it is not that hard.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2017, 03:32:01 PM »
If she gets an Android smartphone with a camera she could take pictures of the docs, which saves them to Google drive. 

That would be ideal as I set up a gmail account in her name (so I can access her accounts online), but again, she has problems using her flip phone.  Unfortunately, a smartphone may be too big of a tech jump for her.  If I was around more, I could ease her into a smartphone over time.  But over a week visit, she may use a smartphone with me around to help.  But once I go home, she may be lost.  And I don't relish frantic calls to me about her mobile phone not working anymore.  She won't let go of the landline.

I know many technological solutions exist, that's not my ask here. (Forgive me mom!), I'm looking for an idiot-proof solution.  Or more nicely, a technological solution that requires as little interaction or initiative from her as possible.  In the ideal world?  We could do this all through her tv because that's one electronic device she knows how to use comfortably. 

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2017, 03:39:10 PM »
Not a bad suggestion, although the lady in question is a technophobe.

What you just said would probably be terrifying for her !!

Yes, and also she's not fluent in English.  So seeing an unknown screen in a language she barely reads is tough.  She's also in her head, really lost in the information age.  Never had anything to do with computers.  She was a cashier a long time ago and she couldn't find employment at the stores where they switched to computer screens.  She now works at a mom and pop store where they still use the old cash registers. 

Bicycle_B

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2017, 03:59:32 PM »
Dodojojo, I sympathize.  I have a friend who is older, struggles to use a flip phone, and will not use a smartphone or tablet no matter how simple the rest of us claim it is.  She has her own strengths but using normal digital tools is just not going to happen.

Your option #2 sounds better to me because it does not require any significant learning on her part.  She might need to plug it in and learn where the power button is.  Those are easy asks.  The rest you can, if all goes well, do remotely.  Also you can practice the tech in your own home first before you send it to her, so you can make sure there are no bugs.  You can add a tag or label, if needed, to show her where the on button is.  From my experience, making the "simple" steps accessible to the other person makes the difference on whether they actually use the new "thing".  Good luck with whatever you decide!

Beach_Bound

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2017, 04:06:55 PM »
What about a fax machine? If she's able to call you, I imagine she'd be able to dial a fax number. This might not be as cost effective as other solutions, if it requires you to get a landline to receive faxes.

Taylor3386

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2017, 04:20:17 PM »
I wouldn’t even go down the tech road. I would just have her bundle up mail she needs help with 1-2 times a month and mail it off to you. Waste of money for the postage? Depends on how much you value your sanity.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2017, 04:35:57 PM »
I wouldn’t even go down the tech road. I would just have her bundle up mail she needs help with 1-2 times a month and mail it off to you. Waste of money for the postage? Depends on how much you value your sanity.

We do this already on an ad hoc basis, guess I want to get us into the 21st century.  Also she gets anxious with waiting with the mail to get to me, etc.  But you're right--it's a known method so we don't have much to fret over.

But I would also like for her to get on the communication bandwagon to help with keeping in touch with me and her family overseas.  Right now, they call her (as she struggles with dialing internationally...) and when they don't, she bugs me about it.  Has Aunty so-so called you?  Did uncle so-so text you?  She only video-conferences with them when I visit her and use my smartphone.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2017, 04:44:00 PM »
Dodojojo, I sympathize.  I have a friend who is older, struggles to use a flip phone, and will not use a smartphone or tablet no matter how simple the rest of us claim it is.  She has her own strengths but using normal digital tools is just not going to happen.

Your option #2 sounds better to me because it does not require any significant learning on her part.  She might need to plug it in and learn where the power button is. 

You understand completely!

Yes in one significant way, #2 is ideal and actually at $229, it's not any more expensive than many tablets.  I'm definitely keeping it in mind.  I have about 3 weeks to decide before I visit my mom over Christmas.  The only reason why I favor a tablet is because I want to install Hangouts and WeChat.  One of her brothers and her sister uses these apps.  My mom having access to these two apps opens up a new way to keep in touch with her family overseas.  I understand the Echo Show would not support these apps.

surfhb

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2017, 04:44:08 PM »
Honestly, you need to let go of the anxiety and guilt.     Let her mail you her mail and take care of her affairs as much as you can.   She is NEVER going to join in the communications things...period.

Also...just have all her mailed forwarded to you?

I know this is frustrating because tablets and phones are SO FRIGGIN EASY TO USE!!   My mom struggles and it drives me bananas. 

Sometimes you just need to stop giving fucks
« Last Edit: November 28, 2017, 04:48:01 PM by surfhb »

Milizard

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2017, 05:19:41 PM »
My mother is very similar,  though I am able to stop by easily, as I live very close.  She Skypes with her family overseas, even managed to get connected by herself  (literally) once or twice!  I started getting concerned with fall risk, so was thinking of setting up webcams just to make sure she was okay without my having to run over there even more than I already do, but that will not suffice for us any longer.  When you visit, pay attention to how well your mother is doing physically,  as you might want to go that route.
Anyway,  Good luck, whatever you choose.

Daley

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2017, 05:50:28 PM »
Perhaps the answer is staring you in the face, but outside of Milizard (indirectly, at that), nobody's even scratched at it.

Technology isn't your answer, closing the physical gap in distance is. She clearly needs more help and family presence than you can give her from where you are. Unfortunately, ripping up roots is difficult and stressful either way... but it's starting to look like a necessity much sooner than later. It happens. There's really only two practical options to do this, either you move or she moves. If she moves, expect the time and transition to take upwards of two-three years to potentially plan and execute with all the problems that can complicate and exacerbate with that physical gap in the mean time. You might be able to move quicker, but it destroys the very framework and support infrastructure in your own life that you need to ensure you have the resources to help her with. No easy solution to this, it's gonna be rough either way.

It's that or trying to find someone local to her that you both can sufficiently trust to take on a lot of this stuff to help her with instead. The fact that you're sending mail across the country already suggests that's not really an option.

Any technology or more frequent mailings or what-have-you is just distracting from having to have the conversation and prolonging the inevitable.

I wish you both well in the coming changes to your lives that will need to be addressed. May you both be well, and any transition that must be made go smoothly.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2017, 05:54:16 PM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

ixtap

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2017, 05:59:17 PM »
Have you tried changing software setting to her native language?

nancy33

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2017, 06:01:02 PM »
My mom has a computer tech guy that she pays to help her, they could get her set up to video conference and when she has a tech issue come out to her house and fix it.

monkeymind

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2017, 06:04:16 PM »
Hi dodojojo,

You might also want to look into setting up USPS Informed Delivery (informeddelivery.usps.com) for your mom.  If you set up the account with your email address, you can view scans of the letters she's receiving with nothing required on her part.

Quote
Informed Delivery® by USPS®
Digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive soon! Informed Delivery allows you to view greyscale images of the exterior, address side of letter-sized mailpieces and track packages in one convenient location.*

* Images are only provided for letter-sized mailpieces that are processed through USPS' automated equipment

You'd at least be able to review and evaluate envelopes that she might not recognize as significant.

Poundwise

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #20 on: November 28, 2017, 08:09:59 PM »
I.P. Daley gave you excellent advice. 

Until you figure out who is going to move, could you find out what social or senior services are available in her area?  Some communities offer rides, outings, and help with paperwork.  Google "[your mom's community] senior services" to get started.

SC93

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #21 on: November 28, 2017, 08:19:52 PM »
My mother-in-law turns 90 on Thursday. She lived in Jackson, Tennessee for 5 years and my wife wished she would have been able to understand new technology but sometimes it just isn't 'in' an older person to understand that type of thing. Luckily her mom moved back here to Texas and now it is so much easier. My wife would take off a week every year just to help her mom do income tax and catch up on paperwork. Although it is a pita, just think of how much hassle you caused her when you were younger and look at it as her revenge. lol I am glad your mother is still with us, mine passed when I was young so I wish I could have the hassle of doing things for her.

I used to drive all the way to Tennessee just to clean the mother-in-law's shower and dust & vacuum for her. Now I just have to drive across town. :)

AMandM

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #22 on: November 28, 2017, 09:04:22 PM »
Is it possible to tell the SSA, IRS, health insurance, etc., to send duplicates of all mail to you?  Maybe by making you an "additional user" or "authorised representative" or something like that. My sister is receiving copies of all my father's correspondence with the government office handling his citizenship application.  My husband gets a letter if his mother doesn't pay her LTC insurance premium on time.

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2017, 09:10:24 PM »
You are getting lots of good advice on the bigger picture, but since part of my job involves teaching elderly ladies to use iPads, let me circle back to the technology question.

What you want is a tablet that you can lock into kiosk mode. That means the user only has access to one app. We have found that where fearful users get into trouble is when they have to open and close apps, or switch back and forth. Even if you hide everything you can, it's very easy with inadvertent touches to land somewhere the user doesn't recognize, and then they tend to panic about getting back to what they recognize.

iPads have a very easy function for this called Guided Access (it's meant to keep little kids from doing things they shouldn't, but works for aged moms also!) I believe the Windows Surface has a similar function. For an Android tablet, you would have to download a second app to lock down the tablet.

Then all you would have to do is call her on whatever app you pick and teach her how to answer. You could even call ahead and let her know that you're about to connect so she can have her tablet in hand. I would also recommend calling her on a daily basis for the first little bit so that she has a chance to really engrave how it works on her mind...don't just show her once and assume she's learned it.

I think it's worth a try (you could easily go with a refurbished iPad for this...Apple and Best Buy both have them)--we have taught some fairly technophobe folks to do simple tablet functions, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that your mom could handle this.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2017, 10:39:37 PM »
Is it possible to tell the SSA, IRS, health insurance, etc., to send duplicates of all mail to you?  Maybe by making you an "additional user" or "authorised representative" or something like that. My sister is receiving copies of all my father's correspondence with the government office handling his citizenship application.  My husband gets a letter if his mother doesn't pay her LTC insurance premium on time.

I created her SSA account and can access it so I have some of the info, but not everything sent to her is saved online.  For the others, I'll look into it.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2017, 10:40:48 PM »
You are getting lots of good advice on the bigger picture, but since part of my job involves teaching elderly ladies to use iPads, let me circle back to the technology question.

Cool job.  And many thanks for the tips, I'm leaning towards the tablet option over the Echo Show.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2017, 11:03:01 PM »
IP and others have very good advice.

I just want to clarify things a bit.  Knock on wood, my mom is in decent health--still works and takes care of all her household chores.  She's pretty hale and hearty for her age. Walks everywhere and takes public transportation. Again, knock on wood.  The help she needs is again (broken record) tied to her language barrier and the fact she recently qualified for social security and medicare and it seems like she's constantly receiving mail concerning those two issues.  The annoying part is all the medicare related spam mail from health providers and companies.  She's not able to separate that kind of mail from the official SSA stuff.  So it's helping her out with documents and forms that is the primary concern.  But that was true when she was in her 50's, her 40's and back to her 30's.  Ever since I was a kid, I have had to help her out with this kind of stuff, from bills to citizenship paperwork because I have one skill she doesn't--English fluency. 

Of course time waits for no man or woman and in a few years time, yes, either she or I will have to make a move so she is provided some care as she slows down. But right now and hopefully for a few more years, she's not hampered by health or serious physical issues.  She's not asked me to vacuum or dust when I visit ;)

Lightetc

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2017, 08:04:51 AM »
We once joked about setting up a security camera in my grandmother’s lounge room so when she rang asking why the tv was broken (again) we could see what she was doing with the remote control from 6 hours away... noting this came not long after my dad spent 45mins on the phone attempting to talk her through a software update on the computer only to discover she was watching the install video and clicking on THOSE screens. Maybe just a camera that you control at your end. And keep chatting to her on her current phone at the same time.

A second thing to consider - I don’t find flip phones/dumb phones intuitive at all. Smart phones + app designed to simplify the interface (especially if you can set it up in her language) may actually be easier because all the buttons have their actual function written on them instead of funny little symbols.

All the best! Long distance (tech) support can be challenging st the best of times.

slappy

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2017, 08:07:33 AM »
I would probably have her mail forwarded to you. You can send back the stuff that she needs if you want.

Imma

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2017, 10:32:58 AM »
I think the remote access computer is not a bad idea at all. You set up a desktop somewhere in her house and attach a webcam and scanner. You call her on the phone, tell her to sit in front of the computer and start Skype (or similar) remotely. To scan physical mail, the only thing she'll have to do is put the paper on the glass plate and you can do the actual scanning.

This or the fax machine, which is also an excellent idea. You set up the fax so it sends the faxed documents as a PDF to your e-mail. She gets to use the low-tech machine and you get to live in the 21st century.

For the future, look up if there are some support organisations for members of her community. I know these organisations exist where I live. They have volunteers who are bilingual and they'll assist people with day-to-day stuff like dealing with government agencies, doctors, etc. I guess those volunteers are people like you: very familiar with both languages and cultures, except they'd live in her area and you don't.

Leisured

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #30 on: December 01, 2017, 02:15:04 AM »
Sorry to hear about your predicament, dodojojo. I had Power of Attorney (POA) for the financial affairs of my late parents, in their final years of life, in Australia. Once I had the Power of Attorney, I went round places like banks and utilities to show them the POA so that they would allow me to act on behalf of my parents. Some places were more fussy than others before they accepted my POA.

What started the POA was when we realized that the parents had been driving an uninsured car and living in an uninsured house, because they lost track of the paperwork. Frightening. Once the POA had been accepted by their service providers, then the rest was plain sailing. I received all their mail and email from relevant service providers, including social security. One of the first things I did was to set up Direct Debit for routine payment of bills. If your mother is short of money, you might pay one or two of her bills for her.

In Australia, there is a POA, and also a guardianship, which deals with health matters. I had just a POA.

On rare occasions, I needed a document from my mother's archives, at her house, and this sometimes was a problem. Is there a relative, or a trusted friend, who lives nearby and, if necessary, can be called on to go to your mother's house, find a document, and send it to you?

Hope this helps.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #31 on: December 01, 2017, 05:24:56 PM »
Leasured, will look into POA.  It makes sense.  I just have zero knowledge of it so will have to investigate.

There is another relative involved--it's a situation which cannot be addressed here so I steered clear of bringing it up.  Unfortunately I cannot convince this person to engage as a mature adult.

I'm leaning towards a large smartphone on wifi only.  That way she can still use her flip phone for calls and learn to use the smartphone in baby steps.  I favor the smartphone as it may be easier to hold it and take photos rather than a larger tablet.  If I can teach her to use the camera app--then each time she takes a photo, it'll automatically upload to my Dropbox account.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #32 on: December 01, 2017, 05:35:36 PM »
If she gets an Android smartphone with a camera she could take pictures of the docs, which saves them to Google drive.  Google drive has camera scanner built in.  Make sure you both have access to the drive.

Not an Apple user so I can't comment on it.

I've come around to this idea.  Partly because I remembered my camera is linked to Dropbox.  I can enable the same on a phone for my mom.  So she just takes a photo and doesn't have to deal with finding the photo, uploading it, etc.  Also a phone may be easier for her to hold and snap a photo.  I just have to make sure she doesn't stray away from the homescreen where there will only be the camera and the two video-calling apps.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2017, 09:46:52 PM »
Are any of the government letters/forms available in the language in which she is more comfortable? Surely senior citizens with poor English proficiency is common enough for government departments to cater for this?

Another technical option might be a cloud-enabled scanner (or a fax machine).

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #34 on: December 02, 2017, 01:23:23 PM »
You've received some good information:

I particularly like the suggestion about obtaining POA for her -- if I were elderly and knew I needed help, i wouldn't mind my children having this.  And the suggestion about having her mail "monitored" electronically. 

My daughter and son-in-law were having trouble with their apartment putting mail in the wrong boxes, and  they subscribed to this service.  They received a digital pix of every piece of mail the Post Office sent to them. 

One more thought: 

At some point your mother is going to have an emergency.  Sorry, but it's true.  For many people, it's a fall.  For others it'll be a stroke or whatever else.  You can't prevent whatever'll happen ... but you can make a plan NOW.  Involve family and decide how you'll handle it.  Perhaps you'll agree that when an emergency happens, after hospitalization Mom will live with her daughter, and her daughter will manage her mail and bills, while the son will go to the house /close it up /remove foods, etc.  And go ahead and have a look at in-home help and nursing homes.  Decide what you'd do if the situation were "this bad" or "that bad" and have some names /phone numbers written down.  Sure, your plans will have to adapt to the exact details, but planning ahead and knowing your options is never a bad thing.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2017, 01:45:19 PM »
You've received some good information:

I particularly like the suggestion about obtaining POA for her -- if I were elderly and knew I needed help, i wouldn't mind my children having this.  And the suggestion about having her mail "monitored" electronically. 

My daughter and son-in-law were having trouble with their apartment putting mail in the wrong boxes, and  they subscribed to this service.  They received a digital pix of every piece of mail the Post Office sent to them. 

One more thought: 

At some point your mother is going to have an emergency.  Sorry, but it's true.  For many people, it's a fall.  For others it'll be a stroke or whatever else.  You can't prevent whatever'll happen ... but you can make a plan NOW.  Involve family and decide how you'll handle it.  Perhaps you'll agree that when an emergency happens, after hospitalization Mom will live with her daughter, and her daughter will manage her mail and bills, while the son will go to the house /close it up /remove foods, etc.  And go ahead and have a look at in-home help and nursing homes.  Decide what you'd do if the situation were "this bad" or "that bad" and have some names /phone numbers written down.  Sure, your plans will have to adapt to the exact details, but planning ahead and knowing your options is never a bad thing.
+1

By the way, as I understand it (not a lawyer here!) the usual thing in USA is that Power of Attorney is slightly different than described by the poster upthread.  The details vary state by state, and you need to consult an attorney familiar with HER state of residence, but usually if there are Powers of Attorney, there is one Power of Attorney for financial affairs, and another separate Power of Attorney to make medical decisions.  Different people can hold the two Powers, or the same person (such as you).  The best way to do this is for the person themselves, such as your mom, to have papers drawn up stating who will have these Powers in the event that they are needed.  Then, either the person puts them into effect, or (depending on conditions) an outside authority such a court puts them into effect.

If you have Mom's agreement to get this set up, she would probably need to sign the documents herself, and before she does it, the attorney drawing them up would need to talk with her privately to determine whether she understands them and whether this is really what she wants.  As I understand it, this is a duty that the lawyer has.  Someone would have to solve the translation issue, probably.  In any case, to know the details for her state, you would need to consult an attorney familiar with that state's procedures.

If the other family member referred to is a spouse, I have no idea how this plays out except that spouses are usually the most important person.  If mom is now single, the above is similar to what I went through with my dad (he got Alzheimer's and his wife couldn't take care of him, so I became the guardian.)  In the single case, if the person does not cooperate but there are safety issues and competence issues, an interested party can sue it court to be named guardian, which means you take over the person's assets to run them on the person's behalf, and you accept the duty to ensure they are cared for to the extent that their assets make possible.  Again, an attorney from that state needs to be consulted in order to understand the exact situation in that state.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2017, 01:48:26 PM by Bicycle_B »

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2017, 04:28:28 PM »
You might want to look at the Amazon Echo Show with its video chat and drop in features.

hernandz

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #37 on: December 06, 2017, 06:00:49 PM »
I would certainly look for a human assistant when it comes to scanning for your mom -- senior center, UPS store, library. 

You may want to look for a scanning stand to go with the tablet.  You can look at one here at http://standscan.com/  or here at https://www.amazon.com/ScanJig-Pro-Adjustable-Alignment-Recognition/dp/B00PKMHTXY 

Your mom will probably have anxiety about taking pictures of documents --this can alleviate one concern about that, although there is still a learning curve.  Standscan is often recommended with KNFB Reader which is used for vision-impaired or blind people. 

Also, although not cheap at all, I depend on my Snapscan IX500, which has an automatic document feeder that is excellent and it's a one-button device as far as your mom is concerned.  You can set it to scan to a number of cloud options or to a tablet/phone wirelessly. 

Miss Piggy

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #38 on: December 06, 2017, 07:19:15 PM »
If she gets an Android smartphone with a camera she could take pictures of the docs, which saves them to Google drive.  Google drive has camera scanner built in.  Make sure you both have access to the drive.

Not an Apple user so I can't comment on it.

I've come around to this idea.  Partly because I remembered my camera is linked to Dropbox.  I can enable the same on a phone for my mom.  So she just takes a photo and doesn't have to deal with finding the photo, uploading it, etc.  Also a phone may be easier for her to hold and snap a photo.  I just have to make sure she doesn't stray away from the homescreen where there will only be the camera and the two video-calling apps.

This is exactly what I was going to suggest. I have all my photos uploaded to drop box automatically. it really doesn't get any simpler.

stashgrower

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #39 on: December 07, 2017, 07:50:26 AM »
After you teach your mom how to use the tech, how about hiring a bilingual person to help her for the first month while you are back home?

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #40 on: December 07, 2017, 01:31:38 PM »
After you teach your mom how to use the tech, how about hiring a bilingual person to help her for the first month while you are back home?

A bilingual Geek Squad would be brilliant.  I'm going to search for community services nearby.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #41 on: December 07, 2017, 01:55:00 PM »
I would certainly look for a human assistant when it comes to scanning for your mom -- senior center, UPS store, library. 

You may want to look for a scanning stand to go with the tablet.  You can look at one here at http://standscan.com/  or here at https://www.amazon.com/ScanJig-Pro-Adjustable-Alignment-Recognition/dp/B00PKMHTXY 

Your mom will probably have anxiety about taking pictures of documents --this can alleviate one concern about that, although there is still a learning curve.  Standscan is often recommended with KNFB Reader which is used for vision-impaired or blind people. 

Also, although not cheap at all, I depend on my Snapscan IX500, which has an automatic document feeder that is excellent and it's a one-button device as far as your mom is concerned.  You can set it to scan to a number of cloud options or to a tablet/phone wirelessly.

I just bought a budget 5.5 inch screen phone.   Plan is to buy an adjustable phone stand along with a document stand.  But of course there are dedicated commercial products for this situation!  But yes, definitely need to make it easy to take a photo.  I tape docs on the wall and phone-scan by hand and it is a bit of a pain.  I've seen some DIY solutions and I may make one for myself.

dodojojo

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #42 on: December 07, 2017, 02:04:14 PM »
This is exactly what I was going to suggest. I have all my photos uploaded to drop box automatically. it really doesn't get any simpler.

Yep, just got the phone, installed Dropbox but can't get camera upload to work.  It works on my ancient Galaxy S3 so I'm not sure what the issue is.  Am waiting word from DB.  If that doesn't work out, I'll just link the camera to Google Photos and it works the same way.  GP has more space, but my preference would be DB.

And the good news is that we can pare down to one video chat app as my uncle confirmed he can switch to Wechat which other relatives use.  Now I don't have to teach my mom Hangouts.

BTDretire

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #43 on: December 08, 2017, 11:30:06 AM »
We once joked about setting up a security camera in my grandmother’s lounge room so when she rang asking why the tv was broken (again) we could see what she was doing with the remote control from 6 hours away... noting this came not long after my dad spent 45mins on the phone attempting to talk her through a software update on the computer only to discover she was watching the install video and clicking on THOSE screens. Maybe just a camera that you control at your end. And keep chatting to her on her current phone at the same time.

 This was my thought get an IP camera setup, Ideally it would have zoom and focus. She could
set the paper in a predetermined optimum spot, you could quickly read it, if it's important you
click take a picture. Now you have a readable copy.  Have her put that in a box marked important. If it's junk mail, you tell her to drop it in the trash. Communication would be over the phone. Although I bet there are units that have two way audio.
 Depending on her health you may want pan and tilt so you could check on her if needed.


kimmarg

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #44 on: December 08, 2017, 12:51:13 PM »
Forget technology, go with a human. Contact a local senior services agency and ask if they have any referrals. Ideally you could pay someone a minimal fee to go over once a week or so, sort through the mail and scan/forward anything to you. Perhaps also combined with a bit of a visit and any other around the home chores she might need help with?

KCalla

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #45 on: December 10, 2017, 06:24:24 PM »
The suggestion of forwarding your Mom's mail has come up.  My experience is that this creates its own set of problems.  If you forward US Postal Service Mail:
A.  it usually only lasts for a year, so be sure to change the mail address to your own for any senders that will continue to need your attention over time.
B.  You cannot "send mail back to her".  It will also be forwarded to your address.
C.  Junk mail, catalogues, and magazine subscriptions also will forward to you
D.  It is difficult to send a package.  I have run into instances in which UPS uses the Postal Service for the "last mile".  Again, forwarded back to you
E.  Letters, cards from friends & family will come to you
F.  You probably know whether she receives any of her prescriptions by mail.  If so, forwarding is out.
So really think this through.  There may also be an emotional issue of her not ever getting any mail (or perhaps a relief)

I do not know if you can forward mail for just 3-6 months through the US Postal Service.  Change important mail addresses to yours and then revert back to her address.  Not foolproof, new items may be missed, but you would have some covered.  I know there are private service that run $25-100 or so per month that long term travelers use.  These service will email envelope images to you, then you choose which items they should open and scan to email content images for.  You may want to search online for virtual mailboxes.  I have not used any of these services myself.

Best of luck

KCalla

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #46 on: December 10, 2017, 06:46:40 PM »
Another low tech option:

Another option:
1.  When you visit, with her OK, put your name on her checking account as an authorized signer (NOT as an owner.....lots of liability risk).  Both of you will likely have to visit the bank and you will need ID (I'd take both drivers license and passport or other - may not need two) It is our experience that the authorized signer but not owner can not seem to be accomplished in some states/with some banks (as you can see, our elderly relatives live in different parts of the US).  Ensure that her income (Social Security, etc) is direct deposit to this checking account) 
Set up online banking access that you can monitor for her from home with authorized use of the login & password.  Bonus if you can (again with her permission) generate a check or transfer to pay a bill online direct from bank to billing entity.  You can still opt, in our experience, to have her receive the paper bank statements at her address, it that is important to her. 

2. Continue to have her mail you everything that is not a magazine or a catalog, twice a month.. no stress for her of figuring out what to send and what not.  You'll get some junk mail for sure

Not as elegant as your ideas, but no tech involved for her.

I'd say to use the US Postal Service medum flat rate boxes, but she cannot generate the labels.

Again, best of luck.  We have had little luck with senior adapting to technology, but then we haven't tried the "kiosk" tablet.  That seems cool

Not as good a plan as yours, but no

Leisured

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Re: Frugal solution to keeping in touch and assisting mother
« Reply #47 on: December 12, 2017, 12:12:13 AM »

In an earlier post I mentioned having mail for my elderly parents redirected to me. I did not mean having all mail redirected by the postal service. What I meant was that all mail from local government, motor registration, utility companies, insurance companies and banks were directed to me after I had shown these places that I had power of attorney for my parents’ financial affairs.

What this meant was that my parents did not get bills for rates, insurance, motor registration, power and telephone; I did. I paid what was due, usually by direct debit, and dealt with any matters that were not part of paying a bill.