5 Important Tips for Successful Long-Distance Caregiving
You have a loved one with an illness or injury that needs tending to, or your family member is just getting older and less able to care for herself on her own, but you live far away. Can you be an effective, helpful caregiver from a distance?
While providing care to an ill or elderly loved one from afar isn’t easy, there are some ways to make the process more smooth for everyone.
Here are 5 key tips for making your long-distance caregiving experience successful:
Know What You Need to Know
If your loved one suffers from a specific illness or injury, do your research to learn as much as you can about that condition. Can you expect your loved one to live comfortably with this issue for years, or are you likely to need frequent intervention and help from doctors and hospitals? Will your relative begin to experience memory problems that could lead to wandering or getting lost?
Talk to your family member’s doctors and other local support about a plan of care and what you can expect. They may be able to point you in the direction of additional local resources you can use to supplement your long-distance care.
Gather Important Documents
Emergencies will happen. It’s just a fact of life, especially with ill or aging people. This means you or your loved one are likely to need easy access to a variety of important documents, including:
- Insurance policies
- Medical records
- Medication information
- Phone numbers for doctors and other care providers
- Names and phone numbers of all utility providers
- Lists of all assets and debts
- Yearly or monthly income and expenses
- Information on all bank and other financial accounts
- Lists of names and phone numbers of nearby friends, family members, and neighbors
- Wills, powers of attorney, and other legal documents
- Copies of important documents, including birth certificates, marriage licenses, and deeds to any property
- Social Security numbers
Collect all this information for your loved one in a binder or other container, and stow it in a safe place that isn’t out in the open but is easily accessible in an emergency. Keep copies of everything for yourself, as well, so you can quickly access and reference it if necessary.
For lists of important phone numbers, such as phone numbers of doctors and caregivers, as well as nearby friends and relatives who can help in an emergency, make copies and put them in several locations in your loved one’s home – On the refrigerator, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, by a favorite reading chair. This way, if something happens, your relative can call for help without having to resort to dialing 911 if it isn’t an immediate emergency.
Checking in with your loved one daily, or having someone who can, is important to maintaining his overall health and safety. Having daily contact with a person who lives alone is crucial. Even a quick phone call or text every morning and evening can go a long way to easing your mind while also allowing your loved one some much-needed connection in her day. If you feel your relative can understand the technology, getting her a cell phone that’s able to do video calls is a great way to stay connected from a distance.
If possible, find someone local who can stop in and check in on your loved one once or twice a week. This allows you to have a set of eyes in your family member’s home on a regular basis to check for safety hazards, and gives her a little boost by having a visitor.
Additionally, make sure you are in frequent contact with your family member’s doctors and other care providers. If necessary, schedule routine conference calls with your relative’s care team to discuss her overall health and well-being, as well as any steps that need to be taken down the road. This can help you head off any surprises and can keep your loved one healthier for longer.
Make Visits Count
When you do make it back to visit your loved one in person, make sure that you pack as much into your visit as possible without stressing yourself out.
Make appointments with doctors and other care providers. This gives you an opportunity to discuss your loved one’s health face-to-face and take notes rather than relying on second-hand information. Also, if necessary, meet with attorneys, insurance representatives, or financial advisers who may be involved in your loved one’s care.
Don’t forget to take some time to enjoy your relative’s company and take him out to do things he might otherwise be unable to do. Go out for dinner, to a movie, to see a play, or just take him shopping for some new clothes. You’ll enjoy some quality time with your loved one and he’ll be able to get back out into the world a little.
Get Help When Needed
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine or admit when your loved one needs more assistance than you can provide. Watch for signs that your relative is not eating or bathing regularly, her health is declining, or that there’s a situation you otherwise can’t handle from afar.
Additionally, routinely check in with yourself about your stress levels and how much you have on your plate.
Finding help from an in-home care provider or, if necessary, a residential care center, can be a tough decision but may be a necessary one for some people. Don’t be afraid to consider your options to make everyone’s lives a little better.
Compassionate In-Home Care in Frederick & Montgomery Counties, MD
At Advanced Nursing & Home Support, we appreciate that not every family can provide full-time in-home care to their loved ones. That’s why we work hard to find the most skilled, compassionate care providers to serve our clients. We treat your family member as if he were our own, keeping in frequent contact with you. Call today for your free in-home care consultation!Tags: family caregiving tips, long-distance caregivers, senior care