Supporting a loved one as a family caregiver when they live nearby (or with you) can be challenging. But caring for an aging parent living hours away is an even more daunting task. Providing support from a distance takes many forms, including medical communications, emergency planning, arranging for in-home care, and money management. If you’re separated from a senior loved one who lives an hour or more away, you’re considered long-distance caregiver support, and our hearts go out to you. To make your situation a bit easier, here are four tips that we’ve found helpful for families like yours.
Tip 1: Visit regularly
Visiting frequently in person helps long-distance caregivers and their care recipients immensely. You can see how your loved one is doing when you’re face to face and make care decisions accordingly. And, your loved one will look forward to seeing you (preferably every 4-6 weeks).
When you’re there visiting, meet with your senior’s primary caregiver. They can identify any new care needs and advise you on how to best meet those needs. When in town, you can also meet other healthcare providers, such as the primary care physician or specialist treating your loved one.
Tip 2: Connect via technology
Though you probably can’t see them in person every week, today’s technology is the next best thing to being there. Using video chats such as FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype helps you stay connected with your seniors and lends insight into their condition.
Visual cues, such as bruises caused by falling or an unkempt home, are useful in helping you make assessments from a distance and enable you to make timely decisions on a parent’s care needs.
Tip 3: Learn about your loved one’s health
Understanding your loved one’s physical and mental health challenges is vital to successfully support a loved one from a distance. It helps you anticipate future changes and plan accordingly, enables you to communicate effectively with healthcare providers, and aids in overall healthcare management.
To receive medical information from healthcare providers, you’ll need to obtain written permission per HIPAA Privacy Rules. In addition, be sure to document all your interactions concerning medical care, social services, and other contacts to ensure updated records can be shared with other caregivers.
Tip 4: Define Familial Roles
Ideally, managing healthcare from a distance is best handled by one family member. However, other family members and siblings can help you organize family discussions, keep everyone updated on your loved one’s condition, coordinate visits, and handle your parent’s finances.
Tip 5: Get support from a local home care agency
Being an effective long-distance caregiver requires local support. Because more than 50% of long-distance caregivers are female (the average age is 47) and have careers, families benefit from having a professional caregiver be part of their caregiving team.
If your senior loved one life in Bradenton and Manatee County, First In Care is here to help. We can be with your aging family member as often as you need us, and we’ll keep you updated on how they’re doing and if their current level of care is meeting their needs. Contact us today and let us know how we can help. We offer a full range of home health and senior care services and will customize a care plan for you and your family. Let us join your extended family and help keep your senior safe and comfortable at home.