If you are a long-distance caregiver you need access to resources and tools that can help you manage the care of a loved one. Thankfully there are numerous resources and new technologies that can help you to organize the details of care. They can also help you to oversee a loved one’s care from a distance. Not everyone knows how to build the best long-distance care team so here are three valuable resources to manage long-term care for a loved one.
The health care team: Developing a relationship with the members of your loved one’s care team can provide you with important information. They are an essential resource for you. Call your loved one’s physician or visit him or her when you are in town visiting your loved one. Establish yourself as the health care proxy so that you have the right to ask questions and have access to care information. Without a health care proxy, the physician will not be able to give you information about your loved one. Make sure the health care proxy is placed in the electronic medical record system and attached to your loved one’s records so that all clinicians will see it. If physical therapists and other specialists are working with your loved one, call and introduce yourself to them, inform them that you are the health care proxy and that you may be calling at some point for advice or information.
Once this has been set up, you will be able to rely on the care team for information about your loved one’s health status. You will be able to call and ask for help, schedule appointments and request additional support. You will also have access to your loved one’s physician in case you need to discuss medication, nutrition or other concerns.
Elder care/community resources: Many communities have robust elder care services in place to help the elderly who live there. Service organizations range from Councils on Aging and senior centers to Meals on Wheels and transportation services. An online search of services in your loved one’s community will give you a list of resources that are available to help you manage your loved one’s care from a distance. You can also find information on the following sites:
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging: https://www.n4a.org/
- National Council on Aging: https://www.ncoa.org/national-institute-of-senior-centers/tips-for-senior-centers/what-you-dont-know-about-your-local-senior-center/
Other organizations that you may want to consider as resources include the following:
- Your loved one’s church or civic organization.
- The local YWCA or YMCA. They offer many different services for people of all ages, including seniors.
- Elder Services department at the county or state level. If you need legal help or advice regarding financial matters, this is the department to consult.
Technology: Technology enables you to be a caregiver even miles away. Some options include cameras for the home that help you to check in on your loved one during the day. Others help your loved one to manage medications with alerts and reminders. These technologies help your loved one tend to activities of daily living and help you to manage their care. They provide peace of mind for you because you are able to visually check in with your loved one, while also receiving real-time alerts on whether or not they have eaten, left the house or checked their blood pressure. We have written about the details of these advanced technologies that help long-distance caregivers in our blog. It’s important that you research these advances and select the one that best fits your daily needs and budget.
If your loved one is still cognitively sound, make sure to discuss these long-distance care technologies with them so that they feel comfortable having them in their home. You don’t want them to seem intrusive. Tell your loved one that it is difficult for you to live at a distance and these technologies help you to feel closer to them.