If you live more than an hour away from an aging loved one, you can’t always provide the help and care they need. When distance acts as a barrier, it can take days or weeks to know if your loved one needs assistance. Many seniors refrain from speaking up about their needs because of embarrassment or not wanting to trouble anyone.
In these situations, it is important to recognize the signs that your loved one needs assistance. Through daily check-ins via phone or Skype, establishing a regular visiting pattern, and keeping open communication lines, you will be able to act quickly when your loved one needs help.
Research Your Loved One’s Condition
Is your loved one fighting with an illness or physical condition?
If so, take time to research that condition and the treatment methods available. Learn about the causes, symptoms, and aggravating factors of the condition. Many conditions have disease-specific organizations or associations, with local or regional chapters that provide education and offer community outreach services. This will help you assist your loved one with managing the condition. In addition, you will be better educated and have professional support available if a health crisis occurs.
Understanding what your loved one is going through will also help you discuss the case with doctors. Make sure your name is listed on the HIPAA paperwork to allow their doctors to speak with you by phone.
Identify People and Resources Closer to Home
Ask your loved one if it would be okay for a local friend or neighbor to check in every once in a while. You can ask a neighbor, a friend, or a relative to do this. In the early stages this might be all the help needed, however be cautious not to overburden these “free” resources, as they may become weary as the care requirements accelerate. You should also consider contracting with an in-home senior care agency. A professionally-operated agency will provide a thorough assessment, prepare a care plan, and have experienced care management professionals on staff who follow up with you regularly regarding your loved ones condition. These strategies will help you properly manage your loved one’s safety and well-being, even if you are thousands of miles away.
If your loved one is resistant to professional caregivers, start small with perhaps a weekly lawn service or twice monthly housecleaning. Daily meal delivery assures they are receiving healthful meals without a stranger coming into their home. These services allow them to gradually adapt to having assistance in and around their home in an unobtrusive way.
Check In Daily
Set aside a time each day to call your loved one, either over the phone or via Skype. Video chatting is preferable, because you will be able to see them in person every day and note any changes. These daily check-ins can help you determine how your loved one is doing physically and mentally.
Whether you visit every weekend or once every couple of months, it’s important to establish a regular visitation pattern. You may experience guilt if you can’t be there all the time. Taking the time to visit regularly will help you and your loved one maintain your relationship. When you’re in town, take the time to meet frequently with your loved one’s caregivers. Whether they are friends, neighbors or a professional provider, it’s important that you receive first-hand updates on a regular basis. Keep in mind, your loved one will most likely attempt to hide or downplay their decline. Look for telltale signs of problems, including unexplained bruises, poor hygiene, infrequent showering, unattended mail and bills, or stacks of dirty linens and laundry. Most importantly, enjoy the time quality time you have with them. Do not cancel their services while you are in town.
Caring for a loved one from a distance may bring on feelings of guilt or inadequacy. It is important to recognize and deal with these feelings. Perhaps other family live closer to mom and they are taking on most of the burden of care. There are tasks you can do from a distance such as paying bills and talking with caregivers by phone. Be realistic about what you can do and work together to fill the gaps.
You may not be able to be present as often as you’d like, but having professional care to assist you from afar can help your loved one remain safely in their home, while providing you with peace of mind.
Call Arista Home Care Solutions today at (419) 754-1897. We are here to help.