More than 10 percent of people who are acting as caregivers for an older family member are doing so from a distance. Living an hour or more away from an aging parent or other relative can present some additional challenges for caregivers. Among those challenges are the financial strains of hiring help and the difficulties associated with communication. If you’re having trouble taking care of an elderly relative from a distance, here are a few tips that can make your life easier. Even if it’s on a short-term basis (like providing distance care during the current COVID-19 pandemic), these suggestions may still be helpful.
Choose a Primary Caregiver
If multiple family members are working together to take care of an elderly relative, choose one member of your caregiving team to be the contact person for doctors, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers. To avoid caregiver burnout, family members can take turns being the point of contact.
Keep a list of medications, a folder of important documents, and other important items in one place and make sure all caregivers know where to find them. Use shareable, secure online services to keep track of phone numbers, account information, appointments, and any additional important information.
Connect with Someone Local
Whether it’s a neighbor or a care coordinator, find someone who can connect with your loved one in person. See to it that they have an extra key to your family member’s residence, provide them with home alarm codes if applicable, exchange phone numbers, and encourage them to reach out to you if they notice anything unusual.
Plan for In-Person Visits
Schedule visits with your loved one and let them know well ahead of time when you will be coming and for how long. Ask them if there’s anything they would like to do when you are there or if they need anything. Make a list of things that need to get done while you’re in town, such as going to appointments, signing documents, and home maintenance.
Set Up Virtual Visits
When you visit your loved one in person, show them how to use technology to keep in touch in between visits. Provide them with a basic smartphone and show them how to do video calls or use the speaker phone. Once that’s done, schedule virtual visits with them to help them stay connected and to put your mind at ease.
Caring for an aging parent from a distance can be challenging but it’s not impossible. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Lean on other members of your caregiver team for support. If you are the sole caregiver, you can turn to a spouse, friend, or even a therapist if necessary. Our Orange County elder law attorneys are also here to help you navigate the challenges that you face. If you need assistance, we invite you to contact our firm at (949) 260-1400 to set up a consultation.