People are leaving their hometowns in more significant numbers than ever before to pursue education and careers. Long-distance relationships with family and friends have become easier to maintain as technology has improved, but distance has a severe disadvantage as our families age. What happens when your parents need a caregiver?
What is the role of a family caregiver?
The role of a family caregiver varies depending on the individual who requires assistance. A family member, usually the senior's adult children, takes on multiple responsibilities. Daily visits to the home, household chores, financial aid or management, and medical advocacy are all examples of traditional services.
However, the physical distance between the caregiver and the elderly person can significantly impact this role. As adult children of aging parents, you ask yourself the difficult question, "How can we care for elderly parents from a long distance?"
One of the key elements of being a family caregiver from a distance is communication. It's of the utmost importance that you are kept in the loop about your elderly parents in as many areas as possible.
Areas in which you can help are below:
The majority of our bills, banking, and financial information, can be found on the internet. You can use the convenience of online access to assist your family member in maintaining a financially secure life and reducing any stress that may be associated with it.
You could help them manage their insurance and medication coverage, in addition to their general finances. Most require annual reviews to ensure each individual is receiving the coverage needed. Oftentimes, there are local programs available that can help with this.
If they are able to remain in their own home, you can arrange in-home care and services. The care available can vary by location, but meals, companionship, health, and home maintenance can be easily coordinated through most organizations.
If they are unable to remain in their homes, you can also arrange for your elderly family member to be moved into a long-term care facility. However, remaining in their own home should always be your first choice as the familiar surroundings will add to their quality of life.
If you need to care for your elderly parents from a long distance, there's a good chance that you will work in conjunction with another friend or family member who lives much closer to them.
An invaluable service you can provide to the local carer is respite care. Respite care is incredibly important to the primary care provider, who shoulders the main day-to-day responsibilities of caring for an elderly person.
Caregivers frequently experience burnout, so your ability to share this responsibility will help you avoid care fatigue in the long run.
What happens to your elderly parent's home if they have to move into a long-term care facility?
Who will help care for their pets if they cannot drive or lift heavy items like pet food?
Concerns like these crop up over and over again when loved ones enter their senior years, and they're especially troubling if you aren't close by to help handle these issues as they arise. Fortunately, you can help create a care plan for them from afar. Everyone involved in the senior's care uses a care plan as an important organizational tool.
Daily activities, physical environment requirements, medications, doctors, specialists, and long-term items like financial planning, advanced care planning, and even funeral planning are typically included. Care plans are dynamic documents that should be updated on a regular basis.
How Do I Stay Connected with My Elderly Parents?
Another concern distanced adult children have about their elderly parents is that they may not get a clear picture of their circumstances through just speaking with them directly. It's incredibly important that you find trusted friends, family, or even local organizations who can check in with them regularly and objectively evaluate their surroundings.
Why not use technology to stay in touch with your loved ones and everyone involved in their care as it becomes easier to use? If possible, purchase a smartphone or tablet that allows you to video conference with them. It can also be used to have conference calls with their doctors or other health professionals so that you can stay up-to-date on their care.
Understanding how to care for elderly parents from a long distance goes hand-in-hand with working within the resources available to them locally. After evaluating what services they need to help them on a daily basis, research regional and state programs close to them.
You can serve as a point of contact to get their needs met even if you live states away. Several local agencies offer needs-based services such as Meals on Wheels, in-home care, help with care coordination, transportation, and even access to senior centers, which can provide activities and social functions to combat potential feelings of isolation.
How You Can Get Started:
- Arrange an informal meeting with your parent's primary caregiver to find out what would be the most helpful to them. If there isn't a primary caregiver, arrange a meeting with your parent(s) to get the necessary feedback. Potentially, hire a professional caregiver.
- Utilize online forums for elderly caregivers to find suggestions on where to begin. Ask for feedback.
- Research local resources and reach out to them.
- Gather important information about your elderly parent's health and keep this information available to all parties involved. The organization of this information is key.
- Make plans to see them as frequently as possible. Use this time to assess their needs and become acquainted with those who are involved in their daily lives. Even though it can be difficult to be there frequently, you can still use your visits to offer respite care for their professional or family caregiver when possible.
Caring for your elderly parents from a long distance is possible with the right planning and resources. However, being involved can help significantly improve the lives of those in need of care. Still unsure of how to begin?
Contact CareLink today for more information.