LONG DISTANCE CARE GIVING: THE BASICS by Harry Cline
As a long distance caregiver for an elderly loved one, you may frequently find yourself worrying about whether or not your loved one is happy, healthy, and safe. However, living far away from your senior loved one can make it difficult to keep up to date on the developments in their life while ensuring they take all the steps necessary to maintain their state of health. Here are some ways you can monitor your elderly loved one from any distance, as well as a few tricks to maintaining your bond across the miles.
Know Your Senior Loved One’s Needs
The first thing that you need to know when you are monitoring an elderly relative’s health from a different town is what your loved one’s needs actually are. Most seniors require frequent, or at least regular, doctor’s visits. Some may need checkups with specialists, like ear, nose, and throat doctors or ophthalmologists. While many seniors may be able to make their appointments themselves, do not assume that the senior in your care is fully able to manage it. There are a few questions you should ask to tell if they are able to make appointments on their own or not — first, do they know how to operate their cell phone? If so, do they have the appropriate numbers saved in their address book, and can they navigate from one call to another? Many medical practitioners also allow people to make appointments online — for some seniors, this may be easier. Make sure that they know how to access the internet and where to go for information on booking appointments.
In addition to their physical needs, you should also pay attention to what they need to stay comfortable around the house. If your loved one can’t keep up with regular cleaning, consider hiring a maid service to ensure the home stays neat, tidy, and clean. The same goes for the exterior as well, as many seniors find it difficult to tackle yard work, especially if they have a large lawn. Thankfully, there are many lawn care services available, which, on average, cost around $136. That figure, of course, will vary depending on the size of the yard.
Know Your Senior’s Friends and Neighbors
The second issue is the question of mobility. Some people continue to have good enough eyesight to drive late into life, while others choose not to drive because of the stress and strain caused by the operation of a car. If the senior under your care does not drive, it is important that they have some way of getting around if need be. You may wish to contact a trusted neighbor or friend who lives nearby to see if they would be willing to transport the senior in your care to their doctor’s visits, as well as to other places, like social events at the local senior center or the grocery store. If possible, introduce yourself to your senior loved one’s neighbors while you are in town to visit so that they can become familiar with each other and have a pre-existing relationship before it is necessary to ask them for transportation assistance.
If your senior’s neighbors are unavailable, there are other options. You could teach your loved one how to use a ride-sharing program like Uber (which costs an average of $2 per mile), though there might be a learning curve if they are not accustomed to using mobile phone apps.
You may think that it will be difficult to keep track of your senior loved one’s needs if you live in a different town, but it is much easier than you might think if you use modern-day technology to help out. Of course, always be sure to contact them regularly to stay up to date on their current abilities, needs, and the overall state of their life.
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