Caring for an aging parent from afar may seem like a daunting task. Technology, a flexible family plan, and local resources, however, help adult children surmount the challenge. Long-distance caregiving for aging parents is possible by following five useful tips.
What is long-distance care?
Family members who provide care to their senior parents yet live an hour or more away are considered long-distance caregivers. Providing reliable care from a distance takes many forms, including money management, arranging for in-home care, medical communications, and planning for emergencies.
Being a long-distance caregiver is rarely instinctive. Adult children learn the skills needed to be responsible caregivers. Training is available, however, through nonprofits that focus on caregiving and organizations, like the Red Cross. Medicare may even pay for such training.
Who receives long-distance care?
The average age of elderly individuals who receive care from afar is 73. Almost three-fourths of long-distance care recipients are women and half live in their own homes. Short- and long-term physical conditions often trigger the need for long-distance care.
Tip 1: Learn about the senior’s health
The first step on the long-distance caregiving journey is to learn about an aging parent’s medical conditions and treatments. Knowledge about the parent’s current health is crucial to anticipating the course of illness, helping with healthcare management, and speaking with the senior’s physician.
Adult children are advised to obtain written permission, in accordance with HIPAA Privacy Rules, to receive healthcare information from medical providers. Document all information about medical care, social services, and contacts, ensuring updated versions can be shared with other caregivers.
Tip 2: Define familial roles
Managing healthcare from afar is ideally handled by one individual. A family point of contact should be determined by holding discussions with siblings or other relatives. A sibling with strong organization skills is often the best person for the job. Commit to updating the family for the duration of care.
Similarly, helping aging parents manage finances should be designated to the adult child with strong skills in financial management. This individual can help the parents pay bills or offer financial support. Long-distance caregivers must discuss how parents will pay for healthcare and daily expenses.
Tip 3: Create a network of caregiving helpers
Including the aging parents’ neighbors and close friends in caregiving is essential, as they provide a realistic assessment of the seniors’ daily condition. A neighbor or friend can readily access the parents’ home in an emergency situation. Keep the contact information of these individuals handy.
Plus, individuals within a long-distance caregiving support circle can offer help in numerous ways. A neighbor may be willing to mow the parents’ lawn. A friend might volunteer to provide the seniors with transportation to doctor’s appointments or the senior center.
Explore home care agencies, too, as a reliable means of in-home support. Professional caregivers are skilled and trained in providing daily help to members of the senior population. These professionals provide transportation, perform light household chores, and prepare balanced meals, among other tasks.
Community groups are also an important part of long-distance caregiving. The National Alliance for Caregiving, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Eldercare Locator are just three reputable organizations that can lend coordinated support and resources to long-distance caregivers.
Geriatric care managers can be invaluable. These professionals are licensed nurses or social workers who provide an objective third-party opinion that may help families make difficult decisions surrounding care or decide whether or not the senior can continue to safely live alone at home.
Tip 4: Visit regularly
Successful long-distance caregiving relies on frequent in-person visits. Family members are better able to determine their parents’ care needs by seeing them face to face. A visit every four to six weeks is recommended. Plus, aging parents will look forward to seeing their adult children.
Plan to meet with the seniors’ primary caregiver during the visits. A primary caregiver can point to the parents’ care needs and how the family may further help the caregiver meet those needs. An in-person visit to the parents’ home is also a good time to meet other service providers.
Tip 5: Connect via technology
Technology, such as video chats and Skype, lends insight into the senior’s condition. Visual cues, such as bruises from a fall or an unkempt home, are particularly useful to adult children who must assess their parents’ well-being from afar and make decisions.
A parent who sustains an injury after a fall may require a fall risk assessment from a home care agency. Professional caregivers are trained to reduce fall risks in the home environment. Furthermore, these professionals tidy up the home to ensure it is safe and clean.
Being an effective long-distance caregiver requires local support. Since more than half of long-distance care providers are female (with the average age being 47), and the majority of long-distance caregivers are mid-career, families are likely to benefit from extra help from Assisting Hands Home Care.
As a reputable home care agency, Assisting Hands Home Care provides reliable in-home support to seniors. Families turn to us for our flexible, non-medical home care services. We provide respite care, post-operative care, 24-hour care, live-in care, and compassionate memory care.
Typical responsibilities include fall prevention, meal preparation, transportation, and light housekeeping. In addition to seniors enjoying Skype calls with family, they will welcome the pleasant companion care provided by our caregivers. We build strong bonds with care recipients to deter loneliness and isolation.
Families rest assured when they choose Assisting Hands Home Care to complement a long-distance care plan. Our professional caregivers are licensed, insured, and bonded. We mandate continued elder care training for our caregivers to ensure they stay up to date on advancements in senior care.
If your elderly parents reside in Fort Worth, Texas, choose Assisting Hands Home Care to be an integral component of your long-distance care. Our comprehensive home care services meet the needs of seniors at all physical and cognitive levels. Call us for a complimentary in-home consult to get started.