At times, it can be a daunting task to take care of your elderly parents or family members. And if you live away from them, your job becomes even more challenging.
In America, out of 34 million caregivers, about 15% of them have to manage long-distance caregiving.
Even though long-distance caregiving is difficult, it’s not impossible. So if you’re wondering how to give your elderly family members the support they need, then this article is the perfect place for you!
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1. Understand that you can’t do everything
Before knowing what you can do for them, understand what isn’t in your power.
Due to your physical absence, you can’t help your elderly parents or grandparents with many things.
For example, if you’re working far away from where the person concerned needs care and they fall into some medical emergency, you might not rush back in time.
In this situation, hiring someone from a caregiving agency or asking a neighbour to help you is better.
Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed about asking for help. Instead, realize that delegating some tasks to others is okay.
2. Plan the visits beforehand
When you’re visiting your loved one from far away, you might quickly get overwhelmed trying to satisfy their expectations.
So, it’s better to let them know when you’ll visit them. Then you can both communicate if they have particular needs.
For example, you can get them some comfort food or a medicine box. Or, you can take them out to meet their friends.
This way, every visit can become a little easier for you and the person receiving care.
If the loved one doesn’t want to communicate, you can always seek their caregiver to understand their emotions better. Prioritize their needs, and they will feel loved and cherished.
3. Have an emergency plan
If the person you’re providing care for has a sudden emergency and you’re not near them, you must resort to an emergency plan.
While different people will prepare different emergency plans, some essential points remain the same.
For example, you must keep a list of emergency contacts with yourself and the elderly person.
The list should contain phone numbers and addresses of medical specialists, professional caregivers, neighbours, or other people.
Moreover, you can even install personal alarms for the elderly that can be connected to your phone.
4. Set up conference calls
Many people living away from their loved ones set up weekly conference calls involving several people.
You, too, can schedule frequent calls where you’ll invite the elderly people, their caregivers, and any other friend or relative they might wish to talk to.
Conduct frequent voice or video calls to get real-time updates on how the elderly family members are doing. You can also find out whether they require any extra assistance.
If your family member is in a nursing home, talk to them through the nursing home’s contact systems.
5. Explore different arrangements
In severe situations, you must try to move a little closer to the parent’s home. For example, suppose you live near your office, and your elderly parent’s house is far away.
In this case, try to move to a location where you’ll be right between your parent’s home and your workplace.
Other families often try to bring the parents closer to their homes, especially if they have children.
But if moving is absolutely out of the question, then the best thing you can do is to hire a house helper. Employ someone that can stay throughout the day with your parent and give you updates.
6. Organize their paperwork
Another way to help your parent from afar is to organize their paperwork. Elderly people often have eyesight or coordination problems which can make it difficult for them to get their papers in order.
Therefore, you can easily take up the responsibility of updating their insurance papers every month or year.
Moreover, you can also get these papers corrected or updated online in today’s digital age.
Keep a record of the patient’s medical healthcare benefits and bills and a list of their medicines. You must also take care of other important documents like ID proof.
Over to you
Even though distance is a challenge when caring for the elderly, following these guidelines can make your work much easier!
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