Involved and Empowered: Long Distance Care for a Senior Loved One

Claire Wentz, Guest Author

www.CaringfromAfar.com  

 

It can be stressful to have a senior loved one who lives an airline flight or long car ride away. While it’s natural to be concerned for their health and happiness, you don’t have to let the situation emotionally overwhelm you. There are many ways you can stay involved and maintain a measure of control over the situation, despite the distance.

Plan Ahead

Even if you have an on-site caregiver, it’s important to be prepared for any situation. The last thing you want is to scramble for documents and information in the midst of an emergency, so gather important documents ahead of time. These should include a medical directive, financial records, insurance forms, Social Security number, and a copy of your loved one’s will. An on-site caregiver may be able to help in a pinch but expecting them to locate sensitive family documents while managing an emergency will only add to an already stressful situation.

Utilize Technology

Even if your loved one has full-time care, there are tech tools that may help put your mind at ease about your loved one’s well-being. For instance, a location tracker worn as a wristwatch will let you know where your loved one is at all times, which can be especially comforting for loved ones of folks who are prone to wandering, such as with Alzheimer’s sufferers. A medical alert system (these systems usually cost around $30 to $90 a month) is also a great tool for older individuals; even those with a live-in caregiver may suffer a fall, and if their aide isn’t with them, this monitor will alert lifesaving emergency services with the push of a button.

Additionally, there are plenty of ways you can stay in contact with an older relative these days. Many people use Skype or FaceTime to stay in touch, but if your relative is a technophobe (older adults sometimes are), they may not be prepared to communicate easily in this manner. Even texting or emailing can be a challenge for some seniors, so be patient if they are reluctant to give these tools a try or need a little practice using them.

Maximize Visits

If you live far away and lead a busy life, visits home can be few and far between. While visits are great opportunities to catch up and spend some quality time together, you should take the opportunity to check things out, and make sure your loved one’s living environment is safe and that he is receiving adequate care. Use your time together to make any home modifications necessary to ensure that your relative is as safe as possible.  

Cleaning Help

A loved one with limited mobility may find it very difficult to keep things clean. That’s a bad situation, as a clean living environment contributes to good mental and physical health, so consider hiring a professional cleaning service. A professional cleaner will help keep your loved one safe and happy, and help you minimize stress and anxiety. You’ll want to make sure you can afford the expense; in San Diego, a maid service generally charges between $115 and $230.

Keep in Touch with Family

The more you can involve other family members in your relative’s care, the easier things will be on you. It’s a good idea to make the most of available resources, and that definitely includes family members, whether they live nearby or across the country. They should be kept apprised of the situation so they can help if something goes wrong. It can be awkward to call on someone who feels separated from what’s going on. Family members should pull together when someone needs help — and that includes helping to care for your older relatives. Arrange to stay in contact via Facebook or some other social media venue, or schedule regular family meetings so everyone can stay involved and feel as though they have an opportunity to contribute.

Do What You Can from a Distance

Don’t give in to frustration — there are many ways you can help from a distance. Take some of the burden off of your loved one by offering to help with tasks like paying bills, scheduling doctor visits, financial planning, researching and filling/refilling prescription medications, and helping an on-site caregiver by providing emotional support and advice.

One of the best ways to deal with anxiety over a senior loved one’s living status and safety is to stay involved. Knowing your relative is safe and happy will make things easier logistically and taking an active role in the situation will leave you feeling empowered and reassured.

Image courtesy of Pexels

Postscript

This article was published on the Livingto100.Club blog as a courtesy to the author and recognition of her work supporting those who care for parents and other older adults.  The author can be reached by email at claire@caringfromafar.com. Her website is www.caringfromafar.com

The Living to 100 Club, LLC, is an Amazon Affiliate; sales commissions accrue to the Company when recommended Amazon products are purchased by our readers.  The online store at Living to 100 Club also gives you access to more products with items that improve health awareness, fitness, and travel with items for maintaining an active senior lifestyle and a positive outlook toward our future.

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