Caring for a senior loved one is difficult when you live in the same town. When you live across the country, however, things can become even more challenging. Although being a long-distance caregiver is difficult, it’s not impossible. You need to stay organized, make use of technology, build a support system, and keep up with communication.
Assess your loved one’s needs with the help of their doctor
Open the lines of communication between yourself, your loved one, and their healthcare providers. Before you can properly determine if you can help meet their needs, you need to assess what their needs actually are.
Do they need care with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, feeding, and toileting or do they just need help with things like transportation - such as monitoring senior driving safety - and finances? If their needs are considered excessive, it may be time to help transition your loved one into assisted living.
According to the National Caregivers Library, almost 1.2 million people live in the nearly 30,000 assisted living facilities across America. It’s understandable if your loved one is reluctant to move to assisted living because of the loss of independence. However, you should stress the benefits of assisted living to them.
Facilities typically offer assistance with daily living, community dining programs, housekeeping services, medication administration, social activities, and transportation options. Although they may provide emergency medical treatment, assisted living centers don’t feature 24/7 nursing care.
If your loved one requires high-level health services, consider a nursing home or memory care facility instead.
Provide them with easy-to-use technology
Whether your loved one stays in their own home or transitions to some sort of senior community, you will want them to be able to stay in touch with you, as well as other family and friends. According to the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of people aged 65 and older use the internet and 42 percent own smartphones.
If they don’t have a quality phone, provide one that is geared toward seniors with a vivid display, large icons, and easy-to-use interface.
They can use the phone for texting and calling, as well as apps that may be of assistance – such as the AARP app for senior-related news, the Lyft app for transportation to doctor’s appointments, the WordBrain app for puzzles to stimulate the mind and the Red Panic Button app with its emergency assistance, GPS locator, and other helpful features.
This app or some other sort of medical alert device is essential for older people. Consider smartwatches with fall detection and other gadgets that can help assure your loved one’s safety.
Develop a network of local providers and helpers
There are some things that you just can’t handle without being in the same geographical area. Therefore, it’s essential to help your loved one build a network of local people who can help. Talk to neighbors, friends, church members, and others who live nearby.
See if it’s possible for a neighbor to check in on your loved one several times a week. If you are looking for local caregivers and other local services, ask for referrals from their healthcare providers.
Have an open conversation about finances
Does your older relative have the financial means to maintain their lifestyle? Also, do they have the mental, physical, and visual abilities to continue handling their own daily finances? Unfortunately, many seniors become victims of financial abuse or begin to forget to pay their bills as they age.
Your loved one may want you or someone else to take over their financial and medical decisions as a guardian or conservator. Talk to them honestly about their financial situation; explain any concerns you have about their money management, and find a solution that allows them to safeguard their money for the future.
If you are the primary caregiver for your loved one, it can be incredibly tough to do it from afar. However, with the help of local providers, modern technology, and other resources, you can make sure your loved one stays happy and healthy throughout their golden years.
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Jason Lewis is a personal trainer who specializes in helping senior citizens stay fit and healthy. He is also the primary caretaker of his mom after her surgery. He writes for Strong Well and enjoys creating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.