Long-Distance Caregiving Tips to Keep Your Senior Loved One Safe and Healthy From Afar
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If you live more than an hour away from your senior parent, relative, friend, or another older loved one in your life, you may consider yourself to be a “long-distance” caregiver. According to AARP, approximately 1 in 10 caregivers reside more than 100 miles away from their senior loved one—and many end up hiring a professional caretaker to assist them.
If you live more than an hour away from your senior loved one, you may wonder if there’s anything you can do to make sure your parent, relative, or friend is in good hands. For some tips that will help to ensure that your senior loved one is getting the care and attention they need to be happy and healthy—even if you can’t be with your loved one every day of the week—review the sections below.
Stay Connected to Your Senior Loved One
Even if the older loved one in your life prefers to use a landline to make and receive phone calls, purchasing a senior-friendly cell phone for them can help you to stay in touch at all times. Plus, many phone providers offer cell phone discounts for seniors age 55 and older. With Verizon’s 55+ cell phone plan, for instance, users receive unlimited texting, talking, and data—helping you to avoid overage fees while staying connected to your loved one.
After teaching your loved one how to use their new cell phone, fill the mobile device with useful smartphone apps like Fall Detector and Pillboxie to protect your senior even further. It may take them some time to adjust to this new technology, so remember to remain patient.
In addition to cell phones, GPS-tracking devices and medical alert systems are other excellent options for seniors—especially if your loved one suffers from dementia or experiences a medical emergency. These types of devices can track your senior’s location and call for help in the event that they fall. Plus, these devices are wearable and can be bought as a keychain, wristwatch, or other form.
Know When to Call for Help
Even if your loved one seems happy, healthy, and well cared for, it may be difficult to know for sure when you’re not seeing your senior parent on a regular basis. However, several tell-tale signs can mean that your loved one needs daily assistance, or at the very least, regular visits from a professional caregiver. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIH), several of these signs include:
Your loved one regularly forgets to take their medication.
Your senior parent, relative, or friend begins to withdraw from their favorite daily activities.
Your older relative stops caring for themselves.
You notice ongoing signs of depression, mood disturbances, or sadness.
If these signs aren’t obvious to you, check in with the loved one’s friends, neighbors, local relatives, or doctors to see if they may have any concerns. Be sure to leave your name and contact information so they can contact you in the future if anything comes up.
Get the Professional Care Your Loved One Needs
If you believe the senior in your life may need daily care—especially someone to cook meals, clean the house, and make sure they aren’t forgetting to take any prescription medications—it may be time to hire an in-home caregiver. A variety of resources are available to assist you as you search for the perfect caretaker for your loved one.
If your loved one requires round-the-clock care, however, it may be time to explore other housing options—such as an assisted living center or residential care home. Other housing options include nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, and independent living centers.
Caring for an older adult isn’t always easy, and it’s even more challenging when you live more than an hour away from your loved one. However, these tips and strategies will provide you with peace of mind that your senior is well cared for—even if you cannot be with your loved one every day.