My career keeps me on the go and includes frequent moves to new cities. It’s always been fun for my parents to visit me and explore new destinations. In recent years, however, they’ve both slowed down quite a bit. Neither one is comfortable traveling far from their Michigan home anymore, and they both have chronic health conditions.
I’m struggling to help keep them safe and healthy from a distance. Do you have any suggestions for long-distance caregivers? Any advice would be much appreciated!
Offering Support to Aging Parents Long-Distance
In today’s transient society, this is a dilemma many families face. It’s common for adult children to be separated from aging parents by many miles. One advantage today’s long-distance caregivers have over those of the past is technology.
There are products and apps that can meet virtually any caregiving challenge, such as:
- Organizing information: Since you mentioned your parents have chronic health conditions, staying organized can be tough. Fortunately, apps like Caring Village and CareZone can help. Both digitally store medication lists, medical history, physician contact information, and more. You can also share access with friends and other family members who help your parents. That will make it easier to keep everyone in the loop.
- Managing medications: Mistakes with medication are a common reason seniors end up seeking treatment in a hospital emergency department. It can be a constant source of worry for loved ones, especially those who aren’t close enough to personally monitor compliance. Technology can help lower the risk for errors. For example, MedMinder is a medication management tool with many safety features. One option long-distance caregivers appreciate is receiving text alerts whenever a parent’s medication dose is missed.
- Assessing needs virtually: One form of technology many families grew accustomed to during the COVID-19 pandemic is video chat. Most used Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime to stay connected. As a long-distance caregiver, you can use video chat to enjoy a conversation with your parents while visually assessing how they are doing. Unintentional weight gain or loss, flushed cheeks, or a disheveled appearance can be early signs that something is wrong.
- Calling for help: Another tip is to invest in an emergency call alert system that each of your parents wears or keeps in a pocket at all times. In the event they experience a fall or other emergency, help can be summoned with the push of a button. Because many of these devices operate off of wireless technology, they can work wherever a senior is.
Create a Back-Up Care Plan
Another suggestion for long-distance caregivers is to create a back-up care plan. While your parents might be able to work together to handle tasks around the home now, emergencies occur. It’s a good idea to schedule a trip home so you can tour assisted living communities, talk with home care agencies, and meet with their doctor. Create a list of care providers that you like and could call if one of your parents needs more assistance.
With senior living communities all across Michigan, we hope you will put Heritage on your list of places to visit when you are in town!