Supporting a senior friend or family member who lives far away from you can be tough. The situation can be worrisome when you aren’t there to physically inspect that your loved one is happy and healthy. With this important advice, you can meet the challenge of long-distance caregiving in a way that ensures your loved one is safe and well-cared for.
Make Healthcare a Priority
Establishing that your loved one has proper coverage for medical needs can provide you important peace of mind. Medicare can be a precious resource for seniors, and there is only one time of year they can enroll for coverage or make changes to existing coverage. The enrollment period, called the Annual Election Period (AEP), starts on October 15 and closes December 7. There is an AEP checklist to walk you and your loved one through the process and verify you have all the necessary paperwork.
There are many devices and resources available to assist seniors and caregivers thanks to current technology. For instance, Forbes points out that there are smart sensors to help you keep tabs on things like whether your loved one took medication on time, and you can even be alerted to issues such as when your senior is running out of laundry detergent. Infrared sensors can tell you if your loved one is up and about without the intrusion of cameras, and a routine chat via webcam allows you to gauge if your loved one is keeping up with hygiene. There are also apps for everything from first aid and entertainment to managing health data.
Pool Local Assistance
Even with terrific, modern resources, there is no substitute for connecting some local eyes, ears, and hands with your loved one. Make a visit to your senior loved one and get to know who his or her friends are. Is there a monthly card game club your loved one enjoys, or maybe a group that meets for lunch regularly? Learn who your senior is comfortable being around and who you might be comfortable asking for assistance or input. If you can, one idea is to create a schedule for who will see your senior and when.
Keep Good Records
Pull together all the pertinent data you might need if an emergency should arise. When time is of the essence, having your senior’s medical records with a list of current prescriptions can save important time you might otherwise spend jumping through hoops to find it. Also, learn the area hospitals and get contact information for your loved one’s close friends and neighbors.
Getting Around Town
For many seniors, transportation is an issue, or it can become one when there is an illness or injury. If your senior is still driving, try to arrange for you to tag along for an errand during a visit to ensure all is well. There are also several inexpensive transportation options for seniors. Many cities offer free bus passes or discounted shuttle services, and some faith organizations and other charities provide transportation assistance for seniors. Area Agency on Aging can point you toward these and other services for your loved one.
While an initial visit will tell you a lot, it’s important that travel funds are established in the event of an emergency. Time Magazine points out that even short trips can be expensive, especially if airfare, hotels, and taxis or car rentals are involved. You also might need to plan for child or pet care, depending on your situation. Create a sinking fund in your budget to be able to cover the costs associated with visits, and check with your workplace about family leave.
When distance separates you from someone you love, finding ways to help can feel daunting. There are many opportunities to bridge that gap, thanks to neighbors, technology, and various organizations. Connect with helpers and lean on the many resources at your fingertips so you can enjoy peace of mind and your senior loved one has a good quality of life.