As usual, it’s storytime. Let’s talk about Long-Distance Caregiving!
Trevor has taken care of his beloved grandparents since 2018, which is one of the reasons he applied for medical school. In 2020, he officially became an MD-PhD candidate at UChicago, but his parents and grandparents still live in Las Vegas. Currently, his grandparents are in long-term care homes. His parents still live in their home, and every day, a home care professional provides them with the required medical care and assists them with daily activities.
Indeed, Trevor is a long-distance caregiver because his grandparents are not in the same city as him, but does it also mean that a caregiver who lives in the same town as their loved ones is not a long-distance caregiver?
What is Long-Distance Caregiving?
Here’s a pop-quiz for you to see if you are a long-distance caregiver.
Q1: Is there any older adult who needs your care? For instance, your parents or your grandparents.
Q2: Do you live far away from them? Do you have to spend an hour or more to visit your loved one who needs care?
Living in the same city as your loved one who needs care doesn’t guarantee that you are not a long-distance caregiver. According to the U.S. National Institutes on Aging, all individuals who live an hour or more away from the elderly who need care should consider themselves long-distance caregivers. So if both your answers are “Yes,” you are indeed a long-distance caregiver.
What can a long-distance caregiver do from afar?
As a long-term care home volunteer in Chicago, Trevor has cared for and assisted many local seniors. But what can he do for his beloved grandparents far away in Las Vegas? You may have a similar question, and if that’s the situation you’re facing now, keep reading this blog article to check out options for the support you can provide for them!
When you find your loved ones face some of the adverse effects of aging, you need to talk with them about their health issues. We know that sometimes it could be hard to start the conversations since older adults may resist this topic, but you should always keep trying and prepare medical support they may need in advance.
“Can my parents & grandparents take care of themselves?”
“Do they need additional assistance from others?”
If you figure out that they need additional support, arrange for in-home care and hire a professional caregiver to take care of them. Also, prepare required prescription drugs and durable medical equipment. If the situation gets worse, you should find more local resources and locate 24/7 care for your loved ones in an assisted living community or a long-term care home.
Financial support is always a huge component. This not only means long-distance caregivers are responsible for paying the bill but also means they should be in charge of money management for their parents. For instance, check on your loved one’s health care and health care insurance coverage, and decide whether you should purchase more or different insurance for them.
Older adults are at higher risk for loneliness and social isolation, especially for seniors who live alone and live far away from their children. Just like how children need a connection from their parents, your parents need your connection, greetings, and psychological support as well. It’s a good idea to call them frequently, chat with them, identify their needs and fulfill them!
In addition, there are also some challenges of long-distance caregiving that are often mentioned.
How can I stay connected with my beloved aging parents and grandparents?
We understand that providing long-distance caregiving is hard, but staying connected is always an excellent start! First things first, the direct connection between you and your beloved aging family members is essential. So, always keep in touch with your parents through instant messaging. In addition to phone calls, using video calls is another excellent option! But try to find and use an App that is senior-friendly; for example, the UX design should be straightforward and transparent so seniors can quickly see how to make a call. Also, the size of the characters should be significant. Presbyopia is a pretty common aging sign, so always keep that in mind. Besides that, plan more in-person visits ahead of time.
Another way to stay in touch with them is through indirect contact. Remember that your loved ones probably only mention the positive side. Try to find people who live near your loved ones, and provide a more realistic picture of the situation, for instance, home care professionals and neighbors.
I don’t know what I can do when emergency issues take place
Always be prepared beforehand! Sometimes, long-distance caregivers may not even notice that their beloved aging adults are experiencing emergency issues! One possible way to eliminate this danger is to know and get the available resources and services near them ready, just in case.
“Are the family doctors available when my loved ones feel sick? How can I reach them?”
“Can the neighbors give the other hand when my loved ones face difficulties? How can I reach them?”
And always, always prepare an emergency backup plan. We also encourage you to have a backup plan B!
Long-distance caregiving during COVID
During COVID, individuals are more likely to face travel restrictions. Countries temporarily close their borders, cities temporarily shut down, and long-distance caregiving situations occur more frequently. Trevor is one of the populations affected, and we are sure that some have suffered far more than he has – long-distance caregivers living overseas. People have had to cancel their visits, and their loved ones rely entirely on local care services and assistance.
Moreover, virtual technology becomes another challenge for both the elderly and long-distance caregivers. Communication relies highly on wireless technology, and families adapt to virtual family caregivers and have video calls more often. Additionally, long-distance caregivers should also keep in touch with their parents’ or grandparents’ neighbors and prepare some backup resources just in case.
How to deal with these issues
One possible way to address this issue is to use technology to track your parents’ health indicators and daily performance regularly. Try to find an approach to record their daily activities and collect instant information and messages from home care staff and neighbors. Moreover, find a senior-friendly communication app so your parents and grandparents can quickly start and answer calls. Most importantly, provide as much detailed information as possible so that home care professionals and neighbors can better help your parents. And you know what? CareStory is perfect for that!
So, how does CareStory work? Well, try it. Scan Jasmine Levy’s QR code in the picture to experience the transformative power of how CareStory promotes connection and empathy and improves your provided long-distance care. You know what? We want to offer you a demo and start your free trial of CareStory!