Long-Distance Caregiving Tips for Taking Care of Senior Loved Ones

Long-Distance Caregiving Tips for Taking Care of Senior Loved Ones

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By Beveryly Nelson

According to recent statistics, the vast majority of caregivers live close to their care recipient, but about 13 percent of caregivers live up to an hour away. If you fall into this 13 percent, then you’ll need to have a proper plan in place to ensure your senior loved one’s needs are met. So, let’s look at some of the major things you should address.

Cover Every Detail

The first thing you’ll need to do when making a plan for a senior loved one’s care is to appoint a primary caregiver and share the responsibilities among other family members. According to the National Institute on Aging, this is best carried out in a family meeting. When sharing tasks, it’s recommended that you make decisions based on everyone’s strengths. If family members have financial or physical limitations that would prevent them from traveling often, then this will need to be considered as well. Seniors who are aging in place but need help with regular activities like housekeeping and meal planning may need a local service to check in occasionally. You’ll also want to make sure they are well-stocked with groceries and household essentials if they can’t get out much. These can easily be set up for same-day, weekly or even monthly deliveries.

Use the Right Technology

When it comes to taking care of a senior who isn’t close by, the right technology, devices, and tools can make things more manageable. According to Sage Minder, home monitors can help you keep track of your loved one’s movements as well as if they have an emergency. Automatic alerts that remind seniors when to take their medication can be integral to a senior’s welfare. Some senior-friendly tablets and smartphones can also make it easier for you to keep in contact with your senior loved one, and there are programs that make the internet affordable even for seniors on a small, fixed income. Make sure to teach them how to use online services like Skype to keep in touch as well. It’s also a good idea to give your senior a medical alert device so they can contact you or an emergency dispatcher if they have fallen or injured.

Assess the Living Conditions

Keep in mind that although you can check in on your loved one with the help of modern technology, it’s recommended that you visit them regularly. This will give you the opportunity to do an in-depth assessment of their living conditions. When a senior is aging in place, they will need to have certain safety measures in place to prevent falls. These can include having handrails on either side of stairways as well as grab bars in the restroom. To increase their accessibility, make sure the house has levered doorknobs and moveable showerheads. You can also use these visits to check if your loved one is still able to live well on their own. According to the Healthy, you should take note if they have lost a significant amount of weight or have stopped paying attention to their personal hygiene.

Don’t Neglect Their Mental Health Needs

Recent studies show that seniors who live on their own can be more prone to mood disorders, anxiety, and depression. This can take its toll on their health and overall well-being. Whenever you talk to or visit your loved one, look for signs of these disorders. If you notice signs of concern, you can schedule a visit to a mental health professional so they can get the help they need. If you’re worried about how these visits will be covered, check on your loved one’s Medicare Part B plan. These plans generally take care of mental health services like counseling, and your loved one can get an annual depression check from their primary care doctor.

Being the caregiver for a senior loved one can be challenging, and it’s even more so when you don’t live close to them. It’s so important for you to help your loved one build strong relationships with people near to them who can help. Ensure you have someone assigned to every aspect of their care, and check in on them as often as possible so you’ll know if their health needs have changed. It won’t always be easy, but you’re doing God’s work — and remember, you may someday need the same help you’re providing your senior loved one.

Image Bev NelsonThank you to Beverly Nelson for this important article.
You can find more information at her website StandUpForCaregivers.org

Our family of Christ-followers at Oviedo Presbyterian Church strongly believes in reaching out to our community members in need, including our senior citizens. We invite you to become part of our family serving God and our neighbors.