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Caring for a loved one from far away can be difficult, to say the least. You want to make sure they stay healthy and happy, but it can be hard to help them when you aren’t nearby. For many families struggling to long-distance care, one of the biggest issues is keeping their senior loved one from feeling isolated or lonely, as this can be detrimental to their mental health and can lead to depression.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make sure your loved one is well taken care of no matter how far away you are. From using technology to your advantage in helping them stay social and active in their community, there are plenty of ways you can keep them safe and healthy. Think about where to begin; if your loved one suffers from an illness or disability, they may need more assistance around the house, and that’s something you can set up even if you live too far to help out yourself.
Keep reading for some great tips on how to help your senior loved one from afar.
There are lots of ways to stay informed of your loved one’s needs, but it’s important to do a bit of research and legwork on your own to make sure you understand their health care plans and medication. For example, Medicare — especially Medicare Advantage plans, which cover dental, vision, and even fitness programs — is an invaluable service for seniors, but it can be a bit complicated. There are many different types of plans to choose from, depending on a senior’s needs. Keep in touch with any health care providers as well. Having a connection with your loved one’s doctors means you will know how their care team is handling any chronic conditions.
Knowing this information can help you plan ahead if you are ever tasked with taking over their medical decisions. If your loved one is being treated for cognitive decline, there is a chance you’ll need to establish a healthcare power of attorney for when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.
Find the best tech
There are many apps and services these days made specifically for seniors, and some are incredibly helpful for older individuals as they navigate daily life. Talk to your loved one to find out what is most difficult for them. For instance, if they have to take multiple medications every day, it may be hard for them to keep track of what to take and when. A medication reminder app is a great tool that can help them monitor their daily dosage.
Of course, using apps requires phone data, so to help your loved one save money on overage charges, you can help them sign up for a plan. Of course, it’s just as important to find cell service that’s reliable; that way, you won’t have to worry about not being able to get in touch with your loved one. Verizon, for example, covers 2.6 million square miles, a number that continues to grow. So, check with the providers in your loved one’s area to ensure they offer the best coverage.
Help them stay social
One of the hardest things seniors face is losing the ability to stay social and active in their community. Getting out of the house and talking with friends or meeting new people can be hugely beneficial for seniors. It keeps them from becoming isolated, but it can also boost their mental health and help prevent issues such as dementia. Look online for opportunities in your loved one’s community, such as a church group, exercise class, or a local book club.
Get to know their neighbors
When you can’t be there, it’s helpful for your own peace of mind to have an idea of who your loved one can call for help when they need it. Get to know their neighbors the next time you visit, and keep in touch with them via text or social media. Find out whether they’re able to check in on your loved one from time to time. Just be sure you don’t ask for too much assistance. If you find you’re relying on neighbors regularly, it could be time for live-in help or to open up a discussion about assisted living.
Caring for a loved one from afar can be challenging and overwhelming. By having a plan in place and adjusting it as needed, you can be sure your senior is getting the care, attention, and socialization they need. While you can’t always be there, knowing you’re connected to all they do will give you both peace of mind.