My loved one needs help from a distance
You might live some distance from a loved one who needs your support – an elderly parent, for example, and you may wonder what you can do for them. Many caregivers are in this situation. We’ve learned from them that you can help, even from a great distance. You could:
- give your loved one emotional support through your mutual contacts
- coordinate services for them (for example, arrange for local caregivers or cleaners to visit them, then follow up by getting back to them at an agreed time, making sure there aren’t any problems)
- manage their health and medical records, and travel to accompany them on medical visits
- find out when they’d like to have company, and arrange for a family member or friend to visit them at that time
Long-distance caregiving may be a challenge. But there are ways to make it work. Below are some suggestions to help you assist your distant loved one:
Make a plan
A good way to start is to learn about their situation, the potential difficulties they face and the level of help they need. Try to identify local resources and options you can manage remotely. Make notes about your loved one's medical condition and any legal or financial issues. Include contact numbers, insurance information, account numbers and other important details. Also, find out as much as you can about his/her illness and any treatment they might need.
Hygiene and incontinence products
As they’re living alone, your loved one can probably take care of themselves most of the time. Even so, you can help make their life easier by helping them choose the right type of incontinence protection. TENA disposable incontinence pants are designed like normal underwear – easy to put on and do not require assistance.
Establish a local network of contacts you can reach
If you’re a long way from the person you’re trying to help, you could organize regular visits from neighbors, friends and family. Then, they could keep you updated on how your loved one is doing. You might even suggest to them that you could hire a local professional caregiver to look after them and keep them company. Whatever you agree with them, it’s important for them to have a local contact in case of emergency.
Check in regularly & stay in touch
Of course, whenever you can, it will be good to visit your loved one yourself. Then you can find out their physical, emotional and financial needs first hand. When you’re unable to visit in person, smart phones, tablets and the Web can help the two of you stay connected. Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger and Apple FaceTime are good ways to keep in touch. If your loved one has a cell phone, it’s a good idea to make sure they know how to use it. And that they’ve saved important numbers on it. Some carriers have free online or in-store tutorials and lower-cost calling plans for seniors who use their phone only for emergencies. Also, it’s worth looking into the helpful phone modifications that are available for elderly people – for example, voice-activated commands, larger buttons, and compatibility with hearing aids.
Be prepared for emergencies
Try to think ahead and ask yourself what you would do if your loved one had an emergency. It’s good to keep a note of local contacts who can be available at short notice. Also, you’ll need to be ready, with money set aside, to travel to your loved one’s home – at any time. You might like to buy an alarm bracelet for them to wear – if they agree. These devices can be activated at the touch of a button to alert you or a local caregiver in case of emergency.
Get professional support
You might find it really helpful to hire a professional caregiver who can provide your loved one with meals, personal care and other services. A geriatric care manager, or social worker, could also look after your loved one.