Nowadays it is more and more common for children to grow up and move to different states from their parents. Sometimes the distance might be a couple hours away whereas others live across the country.
Long-distance caregiving includes anyone that lives more than an hour away from the elderly person they are responsible for. Providing care to aging relatives across the miles comes with unique challenges, but there are ways you can help and stay involved.
Designate a Primary Caregiver
Depending on your family dynamics, it might work well to call a family meeting to discuss the needs of your aging relative and find out who can help and how. A face-to-face meeting is ideal, but a phone call can get things in motion too. Having a single person responsible for overseeing details will help ensure nothing falls by the wayside in regards to the medical and physical needs of the elderly person. Other family members should help whenever possible to prevent the primary caregiver from becoming overwhelmed or burned out.
The separation of miles may prevent you from being physically available to the elderly relative on a daily basis, but there are several ways you can assist.
Fill in for the primary caregiver as often as possible, or during vacation.
Manage bills, financials, medical records, and appointment scheduling.
Be available to attend medical appointments.
Provide moral and emotional support to the primary caregiver and your elderly relative.
Maintain Records and Communicate
Educate yourself on your loved one’s health condition. In the event there are certain conditions or diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s you’ll gain an understanding of what he or she is going through. Share what you learn with other relatives involved in the care. This knowledge is beneficial in preventing a crisis, providing optimal care, and discussing details with physicians and other caregivers.
Make Emergency Plans
Emergencies are always unexpected, so be prepared to act fast. Should the need arise for you to reach an aging parent quickly, you’ll need excused time from work and access to ample funding to cover last minute travel expenses. Set aside an emergency fund and educate yourself on the absence policy at your job as well as understanding your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Use Help Services
You can equip your elderly relative with an emergency call button, video connections, and other services that will give you peace of mind. These services do everything from sending medication reminders, timers to turn lights on and off, and tracking devices that alert you on someone’s whereabouts and even their activity levels. With the technological advancements available to us many of the features can be activated by a smartphone or a user friendly method that the elderly can easily use.
Let the Professionals Help
There are so many aspects involved in caring for someone, and if necessary, seek assistance with meal planning or delivery services, or hire someone to help with personal care and cleaning needs.
Reach out to friends and neighbors, other family members, and local churches and voluntary organizations in the area. There are always people willing to lend a helping hand and when you choose to build relationships with them, you’ll have eyes and ears everywhere in the interest of your loved ones.