Taking care of elder parents is not easy. According to a joint report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, fifteen percent of the estimated 66 million caregivers in the United States are considered long-distance caregivers. Many family caregivers look after aging parents as they juggle full-time jobs and their children.
Long-distance caregiving is stressful, to say the least. Living afar makes it challenging to keep track of your loved one's health, nutrition, and daily needs. However, you do not need to make a long trip each time to check up on your loved one.
There are various ways long-distance caregivers can improve the standard of life of their loved ones through good planning and technology.
Buy Your Loved One a Smartphone
If your loved one doesn't own a smartphone, it's time to give them an upgrade, as it will make life easier in many ways. And even if they do, you can always buy a newer one with better reliability and features. Before handing over the phone, take the following steps:
Save contacts of all family members, their health providers, and emergency services
Install messaging apps such as WhatsApp or others used by the family, create an account and add them to the family group
Similarly, install a medicine tracker app that will provide them daily reminders for taking medicines at prescribed times
Buy a sturdy phone cover to protect the device from damage
Post-completion of these steps, take the time to teach your loved one the basic gestures for using the phone, such as swiping, tapping on icons, typing using thumbs, etc. Also, give them a demo of how to use the apps you've installed.
Through messaging apps, they'll be able to reach you at all times, especially when they need help. For instance, if home repairs need to be made, you can schedule a visit from a local handyman service. This way, they won't need to wait until your next visit, and the home will be well maintained all year round.
Install a Good Security System
If your loved one lives alone, installing a good security system is imperative. This can include break-in alarms for windows, external cameras, main door security cameras, and carbon monoxide detectors. Additionally, most new security systems can be accessed remotely through a tablet or smartphone. Hence, your loved one and you can constantly watch the home.
Cameras can also be installed indoors, which can help you monitor your loved one's movements. But, understandably, they may not feel comfortable being recorded in their own home. A good alternative is to install activity-based sensors which send alerts when activated. These can be attached to medicine cabinets, the refrigerator, and doorways to discreetly monitor basic requirements such as:
Whether or not your loved one has taken their daily medicine
Have they completed their daily routines?
Have they secured all doors before leaving the property or going to bed?
Schedule Telehealth Appointments
Telehealth has become a popular medium of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, owing to major delays in securing in-person doctor appointments. For instance, as reported by VTDigger, average wait times for appointments in Vermont range from 20 to 90 days. Not only is this problematic for individuals wanting to meet doctors for check-ups, but it can also prevent them from renewing prescriptions.
Utilizing telehealth will provide various benefits to your loved one, such as:
Timely Appointments: Whether your loved one wants to meet the doctor regarding their condition or renew prescriptions, appointments can be set based on their chosen dates.
Ease of Access: Using their smartphone, your loved one can meet doctors from the comfort of their home. This helps overcome the need to travel to far-away clinics or hospitals. For individuals having conditions that restrict physical movement, telehealth can become the preferred mode of healthcare for non-emergency reasons.
According to research, only 1% of seniors in the United States have experience using telehealth. Hence, make it a point to attend the first few sessions with your loved one. Plan your next doctor's appointment in advance to ensure you can be there and help with any questions they have regarding the process.
While these steps will make long-distance care easier, your loved one may take time for adjustment. During the process, it's important to remain patient and work with them to ensure all their needs are met.
About the Author
Donna Erickson is a retired public educator. She created Fit Memory with a few friends as a way to promote wellness among senior citizens with the hopes it will help inspire others to make the most of their golden years.
Contributor since December 8th, 2021
Most long-term care situations result in a family crisis. Unfortunately, most families are unprepared for the consequences of aging. Despite the statistics that show how likely we are to need help with daily living activities or supervision due to dementia as we get older, most people ignore the problem until it's too late.
You can call it denial or just the human hesitancy to delay important decisions; failing to plan for the costs and burdens of aging is a plan to fail. Much of the burden falls on the adult children who must try to juggle family and work responsibilities with being a caregiver - or managing caregiving from afar.
Long-term health care is a significant financial problem since the costs of care services are rising sharply nationwide. Few of us can afford an additional bill of $4000 a month or more today - much less the $8000 or more monthly in the decades ahead.
Health insurance, including Medicare and supplements, are not the answer either. These traditional health programs pay little or nothing toward most long-term health care. Don't think that Medicaid is an answer either. Unless you have little or no income and assets, you won't qualify for the Medicaid long-term care benefit.
The solution many people have found is affordable Long-Term Care Insurance. Before saying it is too expensive, think again and get the facts. LTC Insurance is custom-designed, and premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies.
Most people obtain coverage in their 50s. Getting LTC Insurance younger saves you a lot of money, and you have many more choices. This LTC NEWS resource will show you the cost of top plans based on age - How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost? | LTC News.
Long-Term Care Insurance means access to quality care. It also means choice. You get to choose the type of care, including care in your home. LTC Insurance also means income and asset protection. Care costs are exploding nationwide - your guaranteed tax-free benefits will ease the financial stress.
LTC Insurance also means your loved ones will have the time to be family instead of being your caregiver. But don't delay. LTC Insurance is medically underwritten, so your health today impacts your premium and your ability to get coverage. Your good health today is a reason to act and not delay.
Have Questions About Long-Term Care Planning?
You might have questions about long-term health care planning, and LTC NEWS provides the answers for many of the most asked questions here - Frequently Asked Questions | LTC News. Find all the resources available on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.
Find the cost of care where you live by using the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News.
Get Expert Guidance
Long-term care is very specialized, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies, as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.
A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.
Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price.
Loved Ones Need Help Now?
Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea.
If your parent or parents need help be sure to get them quality care. LTC NEWS can help. We have put together several comprehensive guides to help you in your process.
Start by reading our four guides -
Advantages of Reverse Mortgages
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
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