How to Care for a Senior Family Member When You Live Far Away

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It takes a lot of patience and love to provide care for a senior loved one. If you are providing that type of critical care from a long distance, however, it requires a few extra steps to ensure your family member’s well-being and safety. You want to know that your loved one is happy and healthy no matter how far away you are, and these are a few ways you can honor your selfless commitment as a long-distance caregiver.


Protect Seniors from Afar With Safety and Security Technology


Providing a network of local support can give you and your loved one some peace of mind. But when it comes to knowing your loved one is safe and healthy, you can never be too careful. That’s where technology can help. Your loved one may already have a cell phone, which can be invaluable for reaching out to you and other contacts, but it may be worth upgrading to a phone that’s more reliable with a longer battery life in case of an emergency, such as an iPhone 11. Or your senior may prefer a Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, which charges quickly and also offers high-end performance. 


However, there are additional ways you can use tech to keep your senior happy, comfortable, and safe. You can connect their cell phone (if it’s a smartphone) to a more secure video doorbell system to provide your loved one with protection at home. Video doorbells alert seniors to activity on their doorstep and allow those with limited mobility to see who’s at the door without having to get up and move around. Medical alert systems can also be a smart choice for providing senior care in the event of an emergency. You can even find alert systems with GPS, which can be helpful for seniors with dementia and can also help emergency services locate your loved one more accurately if there is an emergency.


Help Senior Loved Ones Understand Their Healthcare


As a caregiver, it’s important to stay involved in your loved one’s health care and decisions. This includes making sure you both know about changes to Medicare coverage. Since so much of the information involving Medicare and seniors is available online, parents and loved ones without internet access (or the skills to use it) can be left in the dark. It’s often up to caregivers to stay on top of the latest Medicare news and that can still be a daunting task.


Fortunately, there are Medicare resources you can bookmark that more easily alert and guide you through Medicare plans and enrollment processes. This includes state-by-state coverage and information about supplemental plans. It’s also a good idea for long-distance caregivers to maintain a list of all their loved one’s care providers and to find other ways to stay involved. You may need to have legal documents drafted to provide more access and make these decisions, but taking the time to do so can make a major difference in a senior’s quality of life.


Keep Seniors Connected to Other People in Their Community


When you are providing care from a long distance, you can’t always be there when your loved one needs help. This is one of the reasons that it is essential for long-distance caregivers to connect their loved ones to resources within their local community. Many local and national organizations recognize the challenges that seniors and caregivers face, and you can tap into these helpful services to prevent your loved one from feeling isolates. There are senior organizations that provide healthy meals, financial assistance, transportation to those who no longer drive and even help with making accessibility changes in the home. Put together a comprehensive list of the local resources, and make sure your senior loved one has that list as well.


It’s also important for seniors to find causes and activities that keep them engaged in the community. If your loved one has some favorite hobbies, encourage him or her to find a local group to engage with. Church is also another positive place for seniors to find new friends and social connections. Plus, developing a strong spiritual connection has added benefits for physical and mental well-being, so going to church on a regular basis can provide so much more than just an opportunity for seniors to socialize.


As a long-distance caregiver, you are such a blessing to your senior loved one. You provide so much love and support already. So, use these tips to provide safety and security as well.

-Written by Claire Wentz

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