According to a New York Times report, the average American only lives about 18 miles from his or her parents. If this describes your current family situation, then perhaps you’re in a position to take care of your elderly parents on a regular basis. But for adults who have moved away from their hometowns or whose parents travel south for milder winters, caregiving can be more of a challenge.
Here are some strategies for long-distance caregiving if you don’t live close to your elderly mom or dad. We hope these ideas will help you ensure that your parent is taken care of even when you can’t be around all the time.
Research Local Agencies and Services
Unless your elderly parent is particularly savvy with internet research, finding and arranging local services can be difficult. From across the country or even on the other side of the world, you can do research for your elderly parent by using online resources like the Department of Health and Human Services’ Eldercare Locator and senior care referral services like A Place for Mom.
Schedule and Follow-Up with Appointments & Claims
It’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed when you’re visiting many different doctors, taking lots of medications, and receiving care from various sources. From afar, you can help to coordinate information for your elderly parent by making follow-up calls to doctor’s offices, insurance companies, and social services agencies.
Have a Bruno Stair Lift Installed
Multi-level homes pose serious challenges for seniors who have mobility issues. You can help prevent falls while climbing up and down stairs by having a Bruno stair lift installed in your parent’s home. Dermer Stairlifts has been serving Nassau, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Westchester, and Suffolk for over 15 years, so we can recommend the best product for your parent’s home. This is a great example of assistive technology that you can coordinate and arrange for elderly parents so they don’t have to worry about the details or cost.
Hire Part-Time Help
If your senior parent is determined to age in place and is healthy enough to handle daily tasks, it’s might not be time to sign up for nursing home care just yet. Instead, it might help to hire a part-time professional to stop by your parent’s home on an occasional basis to help with cleaning chores, cooking meals, or just to socialize. Having a professional visit your parent and receiving feedback will help you determine the status of his or her health and safety so that you can make more informed decisions from afar.
Stay in Touch
Just because you aren’t physical present in your elderly parent’s home every day doesn’t mean that you have to lose touch. With modern technology, there are so many fun ways to keep in touch these days, so there’s really no excuse for not checking in on a regular basis. If you have a large and involved family, consider scheduling a weekly conference call to get everyone on the phone and on the same page. For casual check-ins, try video chats and text messaging. But first, make sure that you or someone else provide a few lessons on how to use communication technology so that it’s not a source of frustration.
Visit as Often as Possible
However, it’s important to remember that conference calls and video chats will never take the place of in-person visits with the one you love. Schedule as many visits as possible to see your elderly parent and spend quality time together. Before your trip, jot down some realistic goals of what you want to accomplish. You may need to discuss some medical concerns, complete benefits paperwork, or make some small repairs around the house. But don’t forget to enjoy each other’s company as well and do something enjoyable together, such as playing a board game, going to see a movie, or taking a walk in the park. Being a long-distance caregiver isn’t easy, but it can be manageable if you know your strengths, set your limits, and know where to turn for help.