Caring for a family member from a distance is a daunting and complicated task. Practically, how does one ensure that a loved one receives adequate supervision? How does one ensure that Mom or Dad is eating, bathing, or maintaining the home? Emotionally, how can one remain connected in a caring, loving relationship when separated by hundreds or thousands of miles? Often, loved ones decide to move Mom or Dad closer to themselves, to live in their home or to receive care near them. But that is rarely ideal for the caregiver and can be extremely stressful on Mom or Dad – especially when already dealing with a decline in cognition or physical abilities.
And now we live in a world where it is less common that we live in the same geographical areas as our parents or other loved ones that need care. But, we also live in a time of amazing technology and changing modes of care and oversight. Here are some tips for long-distance caregivers that may provide practical solutions and emotional comfort for both caregiver and loved one:
- Utilize technology – Facebook’s Portal or Amazon’s Echo Show allow remarkable face-to-face interaction and communication from long distances. Introduce these tools early, ideally before care and oversight is needed, to get comfortable.
- Establish “check-up” protocols; even a text message at set times as a check-up between those who need care can be quick and non-intrusive ways to make sure that a loved one is well.
- Utilize video monitoring and security that can easily be tracked on your mobile device.
- Develop a social network or even a Facebook Group that includes neighbors and friends that are close to your loved one, and that group can interact together and perhaps even offer reciprocal “services” or oversight.
- Hire a Care Advocate to arrange transportation for appointments, make weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly visits to check in and report back to you or provide whatever “boots-on-the-ground” support that you can’t offer from afar.
- Start planning early, and make it a point of being connected for the sake of being connected, prior to a need to provide care.
Every circumstance is different, but utilizing technology to stay connected is easier than ever, bridging physical and emotional gaps for both caregiver and loved one.