Tips for Being an Effective Long-Distance Caregiver

When you’re heading up a caregiver group for a senior loved one long-distance, coordinating efforts can be a challenge.

In order to make sure all their needs are being met, you’ll need organization and effective communication.

You can boost your ability to tackle everything by tapping into the right resources and knowing what to watch out for.

Here are some of the basic elements for you to consider.

Set Up Communication Channels

The first order of business should be getting all of your communication needs locked down.

This means putting together a network of people who can help your loved one when you’re not around.

This includes neighbors, close friends, and any nearby family members. In some cases, you’ll want to regularly touch base with these people so they know of any changes or concerns to watch out for.

You’ll also want to have contact information for your loved one’s healthcare providers.

Being able to connect with their physician’s office quickly can expedite medication needs or last-minute appointments.

It’s also important to set your loved one up with a mobile phone they are comfortable using.

If your senior likes the idea of a smartphone, this can give them access to apps like FaceTime so you can visually check-in, plus they can turn to apps for things like medication reminders or even games to keep them sharp.

Most wireless providers offer plans tailored for seniors. With everyone set up to communicate, you can more effectively offer assistance from far away.

If they’re not comfortable with a mobile phone — and in some cases, even if they are — your senior loved one should at least have a medical alert device.

This ensures that if they suffer a fall or another emergency when they’re alone they’ll have a direct line to emergency services so they can be attended to right away.

Take Care of Legal Matters

For seniors with chronic conditions, their health can change quickly, so it’s important to prepare for this.

There are a number of legal documents you’ll want to have prepared in order to ensure your loved one gets the right care if and when they need it.

Two of the most important documents are a healthcare power of attorney and an advanced directive for medical care.

According to LawDepot, a healthcare power of attorney is a legally binding document that your senior loved one can prepare that would give their primary caregiver the authority to make health-related decisions when they’re unable to do so.

An advance directive, on the other hand, specifically deals with end-of-life care.

This will allow your senior loved ones to state what they want so you know what to do when the time comes.

Enlist Local Help

If your loved one needs help with day-to-day activities around the home or taking care of themselves, then you should look into appropriate in-home services.

Seniors can get assistance with their personal care, laundry, or housekeeping.

In addition to lifting a burden from their to-do list, personal care assistants will also make their living environment safer.

They’ll remove germs and clutter from the home, which will reduce the senior’s risk of contracting an illness and suffering a fall as well as create a calmer, less stressful living environment.

In addition, they can help with shopping and preparing healthy meals, reducing or eliminating the need for the older adult to use stovetops and ovens, which can be dangerous.

Certain programs can also arrange senior-friendly outings so your loved one can still enjoy social interactions.

When you’re searching for a program that could work for you, check out online resources or local aging care organizations.

Where meals are concerned, you can hire someone to cook or take advantage of meal delivery programs that cater to seniors.

This will give you some control over meeting their nutrition needs as well as addressing any special dietary requirements.

Reassess Regularly

Even with a thorough plan in place, nothing beats seeing your loved one in person.

Visiting them will give you better insight into how they’re doing and allow you to determine if your current setup is working.

You can also see if aging in place is still a good fit. During your visit, make note of any significant changes in your loved one’s appearance or mood.

If the house is disheveled or they’re having trouble carrying out everyday tasks, that could also be cause for concern.

If your loved one shows signs of needing an increased level of care and you’re still unable to provide that in person, your next step will be to consider assisted living communities.

These facilities offer seniors some extra help with activities such as housekeeping and meal preparation while still allowing them to remain independent.

It’s a great option for seniors who don’t need full-time care, but whose current daily living environments have become overwhelming. This isn’t an uncommon situation.

As an example, many older individuals remain in their family homes long after their children have grown and moved out, and although they’re still mentally and physically able, they no longer have the time or energy to devote to keeping up with their home’s cleaning and maintenance needs.

Before choosing a home, be sure to schedule tours at a few local facilities you’re interested in to ensure they have the amenities your loved one needs.

You’ll also need to give careful consideration to how much your loved one can afford to spend.

There are some definite challenges involved in taking care of a senior loved one from a distance.

Communication will be one of the most important elements of your toolkit, and you’ll need to be able to make important decisions if your senior is unable by having the right paperwork.

Stay vigilant to any changes so you can determine the best course of action, and don’t be afraid to turn to in-home care or assisted living when the time comes.

There might be a few bumps here and there, but with the right approach, you can effectively help your loved one from far away.

If you’re looking to start or grow your career as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) in Ontario, visit Personal Support Worker HQ’s website. We offer industry news as well as supportive services, including resume writing and interview resources, to help you take your PSW career to the next level.


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Avlin is passionate about helping aspirants become better personal support workers. He is an entrepreneur and runs a clinic in Toronto.

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