Digital Caregiving Helps Elders Stay Connected. Long-Distance Caregivers Benefit From High Tech.

With the advancement of technology, our society now has virtual banking, virtual classrooms, virtual business meetings, and virtual caregiving. Being a caregiver living away from your loved one presents challenges. Technology helps you stay on top of the care and be involved.

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Digital Caregiving Helps Elders Stay Connected. Long-Distance Caregivers Benefit From High Tech.
4 Min Read March 26th, 2018 Updated:August 30th, 2022

Our culture today offers virtual banking, virtual schooling, virtual business meetings, and virtual caregiving thanks to technological innovation. How is virtual caregiving possible? Modern technology offers a variety of methods to lessen the stress and workload of human carers, enhancing overall care quality and lightening the load on those who provide the care.

Being a caregiver is hard enough on family members, but when a loved one lives miles away, the concerns and burdens become greater. There are nearly 48 million caregivers in the United States. You are considered a long-distance caregiver if you live an hour or more away from a care recipient. Eleven percent of family caregivers live an hour or more away from their aging or ailing loved one, according to the "Caregiving in the U.S. 2020" study by AARP and the National Alliance of Caregiving.

How Can You Help Living Far Away?

What can you actually do from a long distance? Actually, you can do several important things that will significantly help your older family member. These would include things like:

  • Paying bills and maintaining financial accounts

  • Putting together a plan for medical emergencies and maintaining key paperwork

  • Making sure the home environment is safe

  • Evaluating home care services

  • Find, when needed, adult day care, assisted living, memory care, or nursing home

  • Keeping family and friends updated

  • Helping the older person stay in touch with other family members

  • Providing emotional support and occasional respite care for a primary caregiver is responsible for most of the everyday caregiving responsibilities

For those with chronic illnesses, dementia, or age-related needs for support with activities of daily living or supervision due to dementia, the cost of professional caregivers has proved daunting. Unpaid family caregivers struggle to strike a balance between their caring duties, employment, and families.

With 145 million Americans living with a chronic illness, 67% of patients don't comply with their prescribed treatment plan. Non-adherence is a significant problem for the care recipient and their quality of life. It also adds additional stress on family members. 

High technology is stepping in to help. SameDay Security, Inc introduced several years ago its brand of high tech called Addison Care, which debuted what the company says is the world's first virtual caregiving system.

Addison Care engaged care recipients not just to comply with prescribed medication plans, medical tests, and rehabilitation activities but to provide verification of compliance. Continual in-home checkups help the care recipient stay on track.

There are many companies now providing virtual caregiving to help human caregivers. Remote monitoring, voice command devices, motion detectors, webcams, and robotics can reduce the stress on human caregivers.

Technology Allows You to Stay in Touch Even When You Live Afar

Long-distance caregivers can use technology to oversee their loved one who needs assistance. Even if the person you are caring for is in a long-term care facility, you can stay on top of their care and monitor them from afar with high-tech help. 

You still need be armed with information because you are the human. When you must take on the position of a long-distance caregiver, one of the first things you should do is to learn as much as you can about your loved one's health. Know the medications they use. You should be aware of the names and phone numbers of their doctors. Recognize what ongoing care (like, for example, physical therapy) they undergo so you can stay on top of the schedule.

This information gives you the power to understand and anticipate future needs and prevent crisis management. It will also be easier to discuss these issues with their doctors as you will be better able to ask the right questions. 

Have Required Paperwork in Place

Be sure to get a HIPAA form signed. A medical power of attorney for health and finances will give you the ability to get information and, if required, make decisions. Keep a record of vital information about their medical care, insurance (including Medicare information, Medicare supplement, and Long-Term Care Insurance information), social services, contact numbers, and financial issues. Copies can be provided to caregivers, facilities, and other family members. Be sure to keep this information up-to-date.

The rest of the family will need to be updated, which is especially important if the family is spread out. A telephone and email contact list can be very helpful for communication. You can easily keep friends, family, and neighbors updated on your family members' needs. 

Give Loved One Some Tech to Use

One thing that is being done often is to give the older family member a cell phone or tablet. Be sure to teach them how to use it. You will find that older people get proud of their ability to use smartphones or other devices, some of which are designed for older people. The older person will feel more connected to friends and family, but it also becomes a "lifeline."

Be sure to program the phone numbers of their doctors, friends, family members, and yourself into the phone as well. Video chat offers a way to see your older family member. Just as important, the older adult gets to see you and other friends and family even if they cannot visit in person.

If they live in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, a private phone line installed in their room can also be very beneficial if a cell phone does not get good reception inside the building. An iPad or tablet connected to the internet can be helpful if smart devices have difficulty getting a connection. 

Are You Prepared for Your Future Aging?

These strategies will make your ability to be an effective long-distance caregiver much more effortless. But what about when you get older? What plans have you put in place to reduce these burdens that, down the road, will impact your children and their families?

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will provide the resources for quality care in your desired setting. Most plans will also provide case management to help your family make the best decisions. Caregiving is hard, and paid care drains savings. Long-Term Care Insurance is easy and affordable income and asset protection.

Be sure to speak with a specialist who understands these products and has experience with how policies get used at the time of claim. Be sure to act before you retire to give yourself the best benefits at the lowest costs. 

Most people obtain coverage in their 50s. Be sure to seek a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist representing top insurance companies. Interestingly enough, many specialists use 'virtual' means to help make it easier and more convenient no matter where you live.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

You can't ignore the problem of aging and declining health as many of us will need help with the everyday living activities we take for granted. The cost of long-term care services can overwhelm our income and assets as the costs are expensive and rising rapidly nationwide. 

Being prepared for the costs and burdens of aging will help both our family and finances. Choice of quality care services and the necessary asset protection are essential. Your 401(k) and other savings can be drained significantly in a short period of time. Family caregivers have a difficult time balancing their roles as a caregiver with their careers and families. 

Long-Term Care Insurance protects assets, ease family stress, and gives you the control to choose the type of location of the care you want. Most people obtain coverage in their 50s, but with several states considering an LTC Tax on those without Long-Term Care Insurance, acting sooner can save you money over your working life.

Find Professional Help When Shopping for LTC Coverage

There are many options and types of Long-Term Care Insurance. However, many financial advisors and general insurance agents are not adequately trained on these products, policy design, and underwriting. Tax-qualified Long-Term Care Insurance policies meet federal guidelines under Section 7702(b) of U.S. Code, providing important consumer protections, regulated benefit triggers, and tax incentives as mandated by federal law.

Plus, several states are implementing a tax on earned income for residents that don't own a qualified LTC Insurance policy. You need a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options. Plus, a specialist will assist you in finding the most affordable option based on your age, health, and family history.

Find a trusted and experienced specialist who works with all the top companies to help you plan for financial costs and the burdens of aging.

Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS

There is much inaccurate or incomplete information about long-term care planning on the internet. Not every financial advisor or insurance agent has the knowledge required to help you with long-term care planning. LTC NEWS can help.

If you have questions about long-term health care planning, LTC NEWS answers the most often asked questions - Frequently Asked Questions

You can find all the resources available on LTC NEWS right here - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning.

The cost of long-term health care services is rising sharply nationwide. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator shows you the current and future cost of care services where you live - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State.

How About Elderly Parents?

If your older parents or family members are declining and need help now, what can you do to help? You can get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether or not they have an LTC 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. 

Is a Reverse Mortgage Helpful?

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource. You can 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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