The number of Americans that are 65 years and older is expected to shoot up from 46 million people today to more than 98 million by the year 2060. What this means is that more and more Americans will likely be faced with caring for older parents and other relatives.
Many families don’t live close together. If your mother or father lives hundreds of miles away and requires assistance, it might seem impossible to help. Fortunately, new technology has made it easier to provide caregiving at a distance. With the proper planning, you can be an effective caregiver — even if you are hundreds or thousands of miles away.
According to AARP, approximately 11 percent of caregivers live an hour or more away from their loved one. Caregivers don’t provide just physical help. They provide a range of assistance — arranging for in-home care, helping with money management, providing respite care and coordinating medical care.
There are many things that you can do to make the above tasks go easier. Experts at Illumina Medical Centers offer the following tips to help you make long-distance caregiving easier.
#1 Learn About Your Loved One’s Needs
The first step in caregiving, whether you are close or farther away, is to learn what kind of help and medical care your loved one needs. Have your family member sign a release of information so that you can access their medical information. Review your loved one’s medical conditions and medications. Speak with your loved one’s physician or medical team about their medical needs.
Also, review your loved one’s financial records. Try to determine what financial services they may need. Do they need assistance paying bills? If so, then obtain written permission from your loved one to review their financial records. Obtain permission to speak with your loved one’s utility and insurance companies, as well. Use online bill pay to manage their bills and banking. Many banks and utility companies offer this service. It is a great way to pay bills from afar.
Think about any other services your loved one may need. Is your family member having difficulty preparing meals? Will they need home-delivered meals? Will they require in-house medical services? If so, then talk with your family member’s physician or medical team to determine what options are available for in-home care.
#2 Coordinate Services
It is helpful to obtain the services of a case manager to help you coordinate services for your loved one. Many community service organizations and medical care clinics offer case management services. A geriatric case manager is trained to assess, plan and coordinate services for the elderly. They can help you find and apply for services to help your loved one. Here are some of the things that a case manager might be able to help with:
- Arranging in-home care.
- Helping your loved one apply for financial benefits.
- Obtain local resources.
- Determine what resources or modifications your loved one might need to stay in their home.
These are just examples of services that geriatric case managers can provide. Their services are invaluable and can make providing care from a distance easier.
#3 Address legal Issues
Does your loved one need or want a durable power of attorney or someone who can make financial and medical decisions for them if they are not able to do so? This is something that you should discuss with your loved one. If they want a power of attorney, talk with a lawyer to get the process started.
#4 Prepare for Emergencies
One of the most important thing that you can do as a caregiver is to prepare for an emergency. If your loved one lives at home, what would happen if they fall down and break a hip? How would they get help? A medical alert bracelet or necklace that would alert authorities if your loved one falls or requires medical assistance can be a lifesaver.
Home automation technology can play a role in helping you prepare for emergencies. It has advanced significantly in the last couple of years. Many systems can provide caregiving functions, such as light a room and provide pathway lighting so your loved one can get to the bathroom safely at night. Other systems feature video monitoring to allow you to check in with your loved one during an urgent situation, such as a tornado or other natural disaster.