Written By Marie Villeza
More and more Americans are having to take care of their loved ones from a distance. And when a loved one is dealing with dementia, decreased mobility, or other disabilities, delivering quality long-distance care can be challenging.
Here are some tips and resources to help.
There are several ways you can use today’s advanced technology to provide better long distance care:
Skype or Facetime. Many phone and computer apps are specifically designed for video chatting. Video chats provide a valuable opportunity to stay in touch with your loved one so they don’t feel disconnected. It also provides a chance to monitor their physical appearance and check for signs of distress or illness.
Medication Apps. You can monitor your loved one’s medication compliance via a simple phone app.
Medical Monitoring Devices. Diabetes monitors, heart monitors, and blood pressure monitors are a few devices that you can link to your computer to download real-time health updates.
Telemedicine. If your loved one is immobile, or having difficulties getting out for proper physician visits, several services provide remote care. Compare what each resource has to offer, and select the one that best fits your needs.
Hire a Professional In-home Caregiver
If there is no one nearby to help your parent, you may be need to hire a professional to assist. Various levels of care can be provided based on your loved one’s needs. They can include meals, grooming, laundry, medication management and more.
The best way to hire a professional is to contact a home care agency in your loved one’s area. Ask for a packet of information that shares details about their specific services, their fees and, most importantly, references.
Once you’ve reviewed material from a few sources, The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends asking these critical questions in a face to face meeting.
● How long have they been in business?
● Is the agency licensed by the state?
● Are the workers licensed and insured?
● How does the agency train, supervise and monitor their workers?
When You Need a Senior Living Facility
If your loved one starts to display signs of aggression, their needs are expanding past your capacity, or they’re no longer safely able to care for themselves, it’s time to consider a senior living facility.
As tough as this decision may seem, it’s important to remember that senior living facilities provide a lot of wonderful benefits for residents:
The importance of socialization. Seniors living alone often say they enjoy the independence, but in reality many are lonely, and loneliness can lead to complications. According to Dr. John Rowe and Dr. Robert Kahn, authors of the book Successful Aging, “The more participation in social relationships, the better overall health for seniors.” Facilities offer a wide range of recreational opportunities to increase interaction.
A safe environment. Senior living facilities are specifically designed to minimize hazards that pose risks to the elderly.
Care based on individuals’ needs. One patient with dementia may require a whole different set of needs than a patient with limited mobility, and these facilities are equipped for those differences.
Rapid emergency response. There is tremendous peace of mind in knowing that if your loved one needs timely emergency care, they’ll get it. Trained, on-site personnel can be the difference between life and death.
If you’re thinking about a move to a senior facility, you’ll need to consider a budget. The good news is that most of your loved one’s former expenses will be included in one fee. Residents can pay via private pay, a senior line of credit, long-term care insurance, veteran’s benefits, as well as other options.
As your loved one’s long-distance caregiver, remember there is no right or wrong way. Consider the evolution of care as a journey and take it step by step. One of the most important choices you can make, however, is to prioritize your own self-care. You can only help your loved one if your well yourself.