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Caring for Seniors From Afar

| September 22, 2017
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Quite often, caregivers are not able to live near the loved ones who they are supporting. Most often these caregivers are adult children, but they come in many forms. Regardless, those who live a great distance from their elderly loved one but cannot visit regularly should not feel helpless. They can handle administrative tasks, provide emotional support, and remain on top of their loved one’s condition, to name a few methods of support. 

Providing Emotional Support 
Time explains the importance of remaining in frequent contact with your aging loved one. The communication alone will serve as a near-constant reminder that your absence does not mean that you do not care about them. This will lighten their mood, and the calls will give them something to genuinely look forward to. Psychology Today explains how communication with loved ones stimulates brain activity, which in turn increases the odds that a senior will live a longer life, according to UCLA.

When conversing with a senior, a long-distance caregiver should take the time to ask how their health is, gauging their mood as the conversation progresses. If patterns of behavior or mood concern you, consider making a trip to spend some face time with them. This will elevate their mood, giving them something to look forward to before your arrival. It will also allow you to better assess whether they are truly holding up or not. If not, it may be time to consider a retirement community or full-time caregiver, but they may also just need the mood-boost that your visit provides.

Taking Care of Tasks from Afar
There are several administrative tasks which adult caregivers can handle from a distance. Aging Care advises that a caregiver attain a list of the prescriptions their loved one is taking and when they are scheduled to take them. Occasionally, but not regularly, asking the loved one how the medications make them feel is a subtle way of ensuring they are sticking to a regimen. This is also where an in-person caregiver is of great help.

Keeping in contact with seniors’ doctors and other caretakers is also very important.  Communication with the elder is vital, but they may not always tell the whole story in terms of their health. Having contact information for healthcare providers will also allow you to help schedule appointments for your loved one.

It is not the human alone that requires tending to, however. Seniors who are not living in a senior living community will often need assistance caring for their home and property, which can be managed from afar. While they may be able to handle in-home tasks, arranging for lawn care will ensure that they do not over-exert themselves attempting to do too much. 

It is critical that seniors accept their own limitations, and letting them know that major tasks around the home should be outsourced is critical to preventing accidents. Leaks, broken appliances, and other potentially precarious issues which require repair are chances for you to step in. Arranging for the professionals to service your loved one’s home will be one less task for them to worry about.

Aging is an inevitable part of life. It is bittersweet, as it often means one has lived a long, healthy life, but it is also rife with mental and physical issues. Fortunately, even distance does not prevent loved ones for caring for their elders, though the care may take a different form than in-person support. Staying in frequent contact and handling tasks that will ease their daily burden are the primary ways in which a long-distance caregiver can express their love and support.


About Marie Villeza

Marie is passionate about fighting ageism and connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. She developed ElderImpact.org to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice. She enjoys helping seniors make the best decisions for their lives in an ever-changing world.

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