Advice for Long Distance Caregivers

Check out this special feature from Marie Villeza of Elder Impact, as she shares helpful advice for long distance caregivers...

When Your Aging Parent Lives Far Away

When your aging parents live far away from you, taking care of them can be difficult. Even if they’re just an hour away, commuting back and forth to check on their wellbeing can be stressful--especially if you work full time and have other responsibilities. But there are ways to ensure the happiness and health of your senior loved ones. Read on for ways to take care of your aging parent, even if you live in another state.

 

When Your Parent has Limited Mobility

Some senior citizens don’t want to leave their homes even though their health isn’t what it used to be. They have decades of happy memories in their beloved house and can’t imagine ever leaving it. This still doesn’t change the fact that they experience a variety of aches and pains. Maybe they suffer from arthritis. Maybe they have trouble climbing stairs, and they live in a two-story home.

If this describes your senior loved one, consider hiring a home health care aid. Home health care aids come into an elderly person’s home to assist with basic health needs and companionship. It’s important to meet in-home caregivers or health aids face-to-face at least once to build relationships with these caregivers and advocate for your elderly parent.

Having trouble locating the resources you need to take care of your parent from a distance? Hire a care manager. Care managers consider your elderly parent’s situation and provide suggestions on the services they require. These professionals will also direct you to local resources and agencies to get your parent the help he or she needs. Contact the Aging Life Care Association to get in touch with care managers in your parent’s city.

With millions of seniors ending up in the ER due to falls each year, we recognized that medical alert systems can be key for contacting help when accidents occur in the home. After over 100 hours of research and hand-testing, Reviews.com has an excellent guide outlining factors to help families and seniors choose the right system for their needs.

 

Regular Doctor’s Visits

Just because you live hundreds of miles away from your senior loved one doesn’t mean you can’t be an active participant in doctor’s appointments. If possible, meet your parent’s medical professionals in person. Get their contact information as well. Ask your elderly parent to sign a medical release form, granting you permission to his or her medical condition with health care providers.

Place the medical release form in a folder with the rest of your parent’s important information, such as health insurance card, advance directive, list of medications and social security card. Keep the folder in a secure location somewhere in your parent’s home so you can access it whenever you need it.

Once you return to your own city, you can still stay in the know when it comes to your parent’smedical appointments. Many doctors let family members be a part of consultations through conference calls. You can speak with your parent’s doctors about treatment plans, medications and any kinds of problems your parent may be having. Enlist family members and friends who live near your parent to take him or her to the doctor. Home health care aids can also help transport elderly people to medical appointments.

 

Keep in Touch

Sometimes phone calls just aren’t enough. You need to see with your own eyes that your parents are doing well, not just hear their voices. One way to do this is by using Skype or Facetime. Using these video chat apps will help you keep in touch with your aging family member. Save your vacation time and money for trips back home to see your parents. Get to know their neighbors and exchange contact information so you can call each other if there’s an emergency. Provide your parent with a medical alert system. It provides you with peace of mind, knowing that if your parent falls or gets hurt, a push of a button sends emergency help to his or her home.

 

Taking Care of the House

Senior citizens with limited mobility often can’t care for daily house responsibilities. Washing the dishes, doing laundry, dusting, vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom are just a small sample of tasks you can hire someone else to do.

When it comes to taking care of yard work, consider hiring a lawn care company. This prevents your elderly parents from exhausting themselves trying to tackle yard work. The last thing you want is for them to suffer heat exhaustion or get injured because of using heavy lawn equipment.

Worrying about elderly parents who live in another city or state can make you stressed out and afraid. You may feel helpless because you want to do more for them, but you aren’t able to move closer. Despite these fears, you can still help your parent. By putting plans in place, participating in doctor’s appointments through conference calls, staying in touch with your parent, locating community resources and hiring companies to do cleaning and yard work, you can care for an elderly loved one--even when you live countless miles away.


About the Author:
Marie Villeza is passionate about connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. She developed ElderImpact.org to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice.