Guest Post from June Duncan of RiseUpforCaregivers.org
When someone you love is far away, figuring out how to provide effective care and support can be a tough challenge. You want to be there in person, but sometimes it simply isn’t possible. Thankfully, there are ways you can bridge that distance and be the caregiver you long to be.
Safe and Sound
Ensuring your loved one has a safe living environment can go a long way toward providing peace of mind. Sometimes, simple home modifications can make a big impact on senior safety. If your loved one is still living at home, Forbes recommends looking into aging in place home modifications. Handrails in stairwells, grab bars in bathrooms, and non-slip flooring can be a boon to seniors with mobility concerns. Simply adding brighter light bulbs can help with navigation, and a one-floor living arrangement can ease accessibility. Consider converting a den or dining room into a bedroom if your loved one is still living with a second-story bedroom.
While you can’t be there for hands-on care, there are other ways you can help your loved one from afar. There are several assistive devices you can employ to assist your senior with daily tasks and help you keep tabs unobtrusively. There are sensor devices and reminders to help your loved one with routine tasks such as taking medications, and you can be alerted to concerns such as your senior not getting up at a normal time. Enhanced doorbells offer video capabilities and other ways of alerting your loved one that someone is at the door, which is especially handy if your senior is experiencing hearing loss.
Another idea is to hire a housekeeping service to help your senior with maintaining a tidy home. It’s especially handy if your loved one has mobility issues, and some studies indicate a clean home can make a world of difference in staying happy and healthy. What’s more, clutter can quickly become tripping hazards for those with limited mobility. Finding a dependable cleaning service located near your senior is a breeze — just use an online search tool.
There’s an App for That
Several apps are available to put long-distance caregiving at your fingertips. Whether organizing medical information, staying on top of prescriptions, tracking appointments and contacts, or recording insurance information, you can stay abreast of what your loved one needs. As Retirement Living explains, social media is another handy tool, allowing you to video message or text with your senior regularly in addition to making standard phone calls. Think in terms of chatting via webcam and making an assessment of your loved one’s physical appearance, as well as looking around the room your senior is in. Does your loved one look clean and tidy, or disheveled and unkempt? Check their facial expression, the strength of their voice, and whether the home looks well-tended. Sometimes, it’s the next best thing to being there.
Create a Network
While there are many ways you can cross the miles in a figurative sense, there is no substitute for local connections. If possible, pay a visit with your senior and gather contact information for neighbors, friends, physicians, and other resources you can rely on to lend a hand should a concern arise. Make note of the local utility companies, find the location of the hospital and other medical facilities, and gather insurance information and copies of important paperwork. If your loved one needs assistance with transportation, check with faith organizations and local public transportation services. There are often programs in place offering free or low-cost options for seniors. Consider checking into meal programs as well, many of which are free and offer nutritious food, companionship, and a safety check on aging loved ones.
Even though you live apart, you can provide well-rounded care to your beloved senior. Find ways to bridge the distance through technology and services, and stay abreast of information and issues. You can be supportive and effective despite being miles apart.
Riverstone provides tailored services for family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or other form of memory loss. See our Memory Center pages here.