Many of us want to help care for our aging loved ones but we find it difficult because we don’t live close to them. Sometimes the simple solution (move closer or move them closer) is not so easy. If you’re acting as a long-distance caretaker for a loved one with disabilities, here’s how to make sure they are truly taken care of.
Get a lot accomplished during your visits
If you live far away from your senior loved one, your actual visits may be few and far between. You need to make the most of these visits. Schedule doctors appointments in advance so you can attend them with your loved one. Help them clean and organize their home, do yard work, or make a large grocery run to help them stock up.
You should also take some time each visit to help your loved one do a bit of downsizing. There are tons of benefits to downsizing as we age – most importantly it reduces the amount of upkeep a senior with disabilities has to handle on their own. Getting rid of clutter not only frees up space in the home and prevents things like trips and falls, but it also helps to boost mood. A clean, organized home is a happy home.
When helping your senior sort through their belongings, try to keep them focused on a single area at a time. Create piles for keep, donate, and throw away. Be patient and don’t be aggressive, but do try to make them make actual decisions. Don’t let them toss everything into the “maybe” pile. Check out this guide to downsizing seniors.
Invest in a good medical alert device
Medical alert devices have gotten a lot more helpful over the past decade. Make sure your loved one is equipped with a medical alert system that has automatic fall detection, which will notify of an emergency without them having to press a button or anything. Most newer medical alert models are built to work seamlessly with a smartphone app, so you can monitor things from your phone even if you’re hundreds of miles away. Here’s a list of some of the best.
Get some local support
You can’t do it all on your own. If you live far away, you’re going to have to have some help from people that are closer to your loved one. You should consider hiring a housekeeper and a part-time medical professional who will make frequent visits to your loved one’s home (check here for tips on hiring a part-time caregiver). You can use various apps to make life easier for them as well. Apps like TaskRabbit allow you to hire freelance workers to perform any task for your loved one – from fixing a leaky sink to weeding the garden. You can also schedule rides for loved ones from far away through on-demand car service apps like Uber or Lyft. This helps when your loved one needs to get a doctor’s appointment or go to the grocery.
While you might not think it to be the ideal situation, it’s definitely possible to care for a senior loved one from afar – even if they have disabilities. You’ll need some help, for sure, but it’s doable. Make use of modern technology to keep your loved one safe and help them perform their day-to-day tasks. And when you do get to visit, make the most of those visits. Do everything you can to get them set up and comfortable for the months when you won’t be around to help.