Caring for an aging in place elderly loved one is even more challenging when you live over an hour away. Long distance caregiving services you may have to provide could run the gamut from helping your loved one manage their finances, to coordinating their doctor appointments and medical insurance.
Although some caregiving tasks can be carried out remotely, others require having someone physically there in the home. If you’re trying to coordinate a senior loved one’s care from afar, using these 5 tips will help them enjoy a higher quality of life.
1. Assess Their Needs
The first step is determining which activities of daily living that your loved one needs assistance with. Take some time off from work to sit down with them and discuss the situation. While in the home, check the surroundings for signs of neglect, like piles of unwashed clothes or unopened bills lying around. Caregiving tasks that they might end up on your “to-do” list include:
- Food shopping and meals
- Laundry and housekeeping
- Medication management
- Yardwork and home maintenance
- Getting around the home, including stairs
- Bathing and dressing
- Bill paying and financial decisions
If your senior has dementia or poor vision, home safety is another concern. Make sure that you find someone to safe proof their home, notably the bathroom, kitchen and stairs.
2. Form a Caregiving Team
Once you have a list of your loved one’s caregiving needs, form a team to provide the services. Seek out trustworthy individuals with the skills and time availably that will be required. Possible sources for caregiver team members include:
- Medical professionals
- Family members
- Community volunteers
- Senior meal and transportation services
Just because your long distance caregiving team is in place doesn’t mean your work is over. Communicate with them every week or two via Skype, email or phone. Based on team member feedback about your loved one’s current condition, you’ll need to make-adjustments periodically.
3. Become Their Medical Advocate
Ask your loved one to fill out the appropriate forms so you can access their medical records and speak directly to their doctors and health insurance company. As their medical advocate, take time off work to accompany them to their doctor appointments. It also makes sense for you to become your loved one’s durable power-of-attorney (POA) in the event they become incapacitated. Don’t forget to discuss any medical directives that your senior might want to put in place and keep all immediate family members notified about your loved one’s decisions.
4. Other Responsibilities
As the team’s coordinator, don’t forget about these caregiving responsibilities:
Financial – Become a custodian on your senior’s bank accounts to help prevent financial