The Best Advice for Caregivers Providing Support From Afar
As the Boomer generation continues to desire their independence, many will choose to live alone throughout their retirement years. Fortunately, aging in place has been made easier with technology. Things like video chat devices and other smart home features mean that caregivers don’t always have to share the same space as their senior loved ones.
But just because it’s possible doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Here are some tips for establishing your own caregiving endeavor from afar.
Make communication a priority.
Any successful caregiving plan should start with how and when you’ll communicate. Schedule a time each day to check in with your loved one. If they don’t have a cell phone, find a provider that has devices that are easy to use. This way, they won’t need to sit by the phone during their day, and you can jump in without breaking your daily routine.
Some carriers offer trade-in opportunities paired with unlimited data use, which can get your senior into a new phone inexpensively and ensure your loved one stays on budget each month. Before you spend the money on a mobile device and plan, look at phone qualities that will be most senior-friendly, like generous screen size and voice commands. Your loved one will appreciate being able to ask the phone to call you, check the weather, and so forth.
Establish access to their accounts.
Even if your senior loved one is healthy of mind and body, it is never too early to ensure that you have access to their medical and financial information. At some point, LivHome explains you’ll need to have a conversation about money as well, and you should also discuss whether they have established a durable power of attorney.
Additionally, you should be sure they list you as a person who can communicate with their healthcare team on their behalf. Doing so will allow you to speak to their medical providers in case new health concerns crop up or existing ones get worse.
Assemble a team.
When you live with somebody that needs assistance, it’s easy to take care of most of their day-to-day needs. But when physically being near isn’t possible, you’ll be glad to have people close by who can lend a hand. Your long-distance care team might be other relatives that live in town, housekeepers, volunteer transportation services, family friends, and neighbors.
It’s also important to keep your entire family on the same page, whether it’s by discussing your loved one’s care at a family get-together, calling, or texting. This in and of itself can get complicated. To help, AARP suggests using apps to help with organizing and communicating about support.
Keep an eye on the condition of their home.
As you get further into your caregiving journey, things are going to change. Your beloved senior may experience arthritis, muscle weakness, dementia, or vision/hearing loss that makes it less safe for them to reside in an unmodified home.
With each check-in, look for safety hazards and ways to compensate. One example for seniors with declining division is to add extra lights throughout the home. An older person with balance problems might benefit from minor modifications, such as grab bars in the bathroom and non-slip tread on the stairs.
Know your limitations.
Most importantly, you should know your limitations and weigh them against the ability of your loved one to safely live solo. This is especially important if you have minimal support, and relocating to be closer to each other is not an option. At some point, you may need to explore the possibility that assisted living is the best option to ensure their quality of life.
Long-distance caregiving is a labor of love. It takes planning and cooperation from you and your aging loved one, as well as the community and other caregivers. Add appropriate tools and strategies so you can provide the love and support your senior needs.
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