Caring for aging parents while living a long distance away can be highly stressful. Long-distance family caregivers can’t see their loved one every day, they can’t rush to their side in case of an emergency, and they are left judging their loved one’s well-being through phone and video calls.
If you are long-distance family caregiver, there are ways to ensure that your aging parent is safe at home. Here are some suggestions to help overcome the long distance and bring peace of mind to your family.
Use technology: Thankfully there are many technologies available today that allow visual remote check-in. You can purchase Nest or similar technologies that provide an in-home camera so you can check-in visually to see how your loved one is doing and what they are doing in the home. Personal emergency response systems allow your loved one to call for emergency help should they fall. New remote care technology, LivHOME Connect, allows your loved one to receive video calls from a remote Connect Advisor. The advisor can quickly assess the situation and triage it appropriately. It can also track if medications are taken, monitor health conditions, and much more. These technologies can give long-distance caregivers peace of mind by knowing exactly what their loved one is doing and if they are safe.
Hire a geriatric care manager: These professionals are trained to help seniors age well at home. They have worked in healthcare in different capacities including nursing and social work. They are trained to conduct an assessment of the senior’s health and ensure that a care plan keeps them as healthy as possible. They can also put a proactive plan in place that helps to prevent future crises from occurring by engaging support in the home, help with food, transportation and physician appointments. A geriatric care manager can visit your loved one regularly to make sure they are safe, warm, well fed, hydrated and are taking their medications regularly.
Develop a network of resources: The more you know and the more resources you have at your fingertips the easier it will be to care for your loved one from a distance. A geriatric care manager can help you. Each care manager knows all the resources in your loved one’s community and can help you to access them. If you are worried about your loved one, knowing the right people to call for help can make all the difference.
Visit and assess needs: When you visit your loved one it is a good time to assess their needs. Be a bit of a detective and gather information as you move about the house. For example, when you look in the refrigerator does it appear that food is being eaten or is much of it stale and moldy? Is the house clean or does it appear that your loved one can no longer keep up with housework? Is your loved one well groomed or does it appear that they cannot take care of personal grooming and bathing by themselves? This information will give you a realistic gauge of your loved one’s health and ability to care for themselves. Once you know his or her needs you can find resources to address them.
Being a long-distance family caregiver is never easy. However, with advanced technology, resources, and support, you can make sure your loved one is safe at home.