Of the 34 million family caregivers in the United States, about 15 percent are long-distance caregivers (live an hour or more away from the person you’re caring for). Considering how mobile our society is and that many children move to cities away from their parents when they graduate from school, this isn’t surprising. While caring for a loved one when you live in the same city can be difficult, long-distance caregiving can present a unique set of challenges. Here are five tips to help you protect your senior loved ones when you can’t be there with them.
Tip #1: Connect with their healthcare providers
Even though you can’t attend medical appointments with your loved ones, you can build a connection with their healthcare providers. Many doctors communicate with family members by phone or e-mail and keep them updated on how their loved one’s health is doing (you will have to fill out a HIPAA release form or gain Medical Power of Attorney).
Staying apprised of your parent’s health status through their healthcare providers allows you to be more involved in their care, assist them with following doctor’s orders, and give you more peace of mind.
Tip #2: Build a local support system
Both you and your loved one need to have people nearby who can provide support when needed. Build a contact list consisting of their friends and trustworthy neighbors who can physically check on your loved ones if you’re concerned about something. In addition, many apartment complexes and senior communities have neighborhood Facebook pages you can join to stay current on what’s happening where they live.
Tip #3: Communicate often
As busy as life gets, days and weeks pass quickly, and we can lose track of keeping in touch with family and friends. Living at a distance means you need to communicate with your loved ones at least 1-2 times per week. They need the security of knowing that you’re there for them.
Video calls like Zoom and FaceTime let you see Mom or Dad, giving you visual cues on how they’re doing physically and if they’re doing well with personal care (bathing, grooming, dressing).
Tip #4: Use local resources
If your senior is having challenges with activities like housekeeping, cooking, or grocery shopping, you can arrange local support. Most major grocery chains offer online shopping with delivery or curbside pickup. And you can find and line up every service they may need online, including housekeeping, home repairs, lawn care, and transportation services.
Tip #5: Set up online banking
Seniors are prime targets for financial fraud and scams. By being a joint account holder with your loved one and using online banking, you can monitor their accounts and ensure there are no unusual transactions, like unexplained ATM withdrawals or wire transfers. You can also make sure your loved one is paying their bills on time.
First in Care Helps Long-Distance Family Caregivers
First in Care has helped many long-distance caregivers with loved ones feel secure by providing the senior care home services they need. We provide companion care, help with daily activities such as meal preparation and light housekeeping, and we can run errands like picking up groceries.
Don’t keep your fingers crossed from a distance, hoping your mom or dad is doing alright. Instead, call us and learn how you can affordably make sure that a local, professional caregiver keeps your loved ones safe and secure at home.