The number of adults caring for an aging loved one continues to rise each year. In fact, the National Alliance of Caregiving now estimates there are more than 34 million adults in the U.S. caring for an aging parent, with approximately 5-7 million of which are classified as “long-distance caregivers.” These are adults caring for an aging loved one that lives over 20 to 30 minutes away. According to the National Council on Aging, the number of long-distance caregivers is projected to double by 2020, meaning that more and more people need to know how to handle the challenges of long-distance caregiving.
Thanks to advancements in technology and a few key tips, there are a number of ways those living farther can handle long-distance caregiving better than ever before.
Schedule a Family Meeting
Set aside time to gather all the necessary decision makers in the family, whether it is in-person, by phone or video chat to discuss a plan for caregiving from afar. This meeting should focus on listing the goals of caregiving for your aging loved one and dividing up specific caregiving duties. Make sure this meeting is an open discussion, allowing family members and friends to comfortably discuss their opinions and feelings on caregiving so that everyone feels heard and is on the same page.
Organize All Important Documents and Paperwork
If there are any medical, legal or financial conditions that may exist, it is especially important to have all the appropriate documents organized and readily available. Have a running list of important contacts, whether it be doctors, services, friends or neighbors to make sure that you can reach the appropriate party should a situation arise while you are far away.
Stay In Touch with Friends and Neighbors for Help
Speaking of friends and neighbors, these are excellent people to keep in touch with regularly when caregiving from afar. After all, these are the people with the closest in-person contact to an aging loved one, and they can be extremely helpful in checking-in and providing peace of mind. Whether it is asking a seniors neighbor to occasionally walk over and check-in or scheduling a visit from an old friend, these people can be extremely helpful in the long distance caregiving process.
Create a Plan for Emergencies
As the saying goes, it is better to be safe rather than sorry. Obviously many will hope to not use this plan, but it’s a good idea to set aside time and money in the case of needing to make a visit to an aging loved one. Make sure your family and employer are aware of the need to possibly leave at a moment’s notice and consider inquiring work about possible leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act should a situation arise.
Utilize New & Emerging Technology
This perhaps is the most important tip for long distance caregivers that are looking for peace of mind. According to caregivers.org, Long-distance caregivers are more likely to report emotional distress (47%) than those living within 10 miles of aging loved ones. But thanks to new technological innovations, those far away can have peace of mind with some digital help.
An emergency or service button is an extremely helpful device for aging loved ones, particularly one that is small and easy to travel with from room to room. There are also many medical devices that can help track prescriptions and medicine schedules for seniors living with a medical condition. At SameAddress, we also offer a digital service specifically for long distance caregiving through our dCare solution, which is a web-based, data-driven dashboard that provides regular updates on a senior’s health. To learn more about dCare and our other senior concierge services, read more here.
Seek Out Professional Services for Help
Lastly, aging-in-home specialists and services are a great resource to help with any needs. At SameAddress, we know how challenging it can be to handle long-distance caregiving, but with open communication, a little organization, and local aging-in-place services, the care you can provide loved ones will be as if you’re right there with them.
For more information on how SameAddress can assist in long-distance caregiving, contact us today at 1-866-SENIOR-1.