How can I help my mom, who has chronic pulmonary disease, from across the country?

1 answer | Last updated: May 30, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

I live in Kansas, and my mother lives in California. She has chronic pulmonary disease and is having problems getting the at-home medical equipment she needs through Medicare. How can I help her when I live across the country?

Expert Answers

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for

Medicare Part B covers durable medical and oxygen equipment. And, under Medicare Part B, if your mother chooses to rent or lease the equipment, the equipment is considered her property after 13 months. Your mother would then be responsible for maintenance expenses, but she'd own the equipment outright.

That's how it's supposed to work, but it can take a lot of phone calls to make sure your mother receives all the care and services she's entitled to -- and usually it's the caregiver who winds up making that happen.

Still, you don't need to hop on a plane to California to help her sort it out. Because Medicare is a federal program, designed to offer basic health insurance for everyone over the age of 65, the rules are the same whether you're in Kansas or California.

If you want to help your mother with the research or legwork, you can do it from wherever you are. You'll find the rules online at (or, if your mother also receives Medicaid, at These sites will also help you find your local Medicare office -- or your mother's -- if you want to call that office directly.

I see a lot of situations in which adult children move their parents closer to where they live because they think they can help their parents more effectively that way. But it really doesn't matter where your parents live -- you're going to be on hold with the same people no matter where your parents call home.