… Even from hundreds of miles away!
Most of us want to have a role in caretaking our aging loved ones, but many of us are unable to live close enough for daily visits. There are plenty of circumstances that prevent this, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. What you can do, however, is not let distance put a barrier between you and your loved one. Through the use of modern tech and services, even those living far away can still provide a good level of care for those they love. Here are some tips.
Share important documents online
If you’re caregiving from a distance, chances are you’re not the only person taking care of your loved one. You may be getting help from someone you hire that’s close to them, or from a sibling or other family member. It’s vital that everyone who has some role in the caretaking is on the same page about the day-to-day details of your loved one’s care.
You should use services like Dropbox and Google Drive to share important documents, including but not limited to: caregiving journals that note day-to-day activities and behaviors; medical records; financial documents; medication schedules; and contact information for doctors, utility services, lawyers, and other important contacts. Sharing information online is a good way to make sure everyone can access the proper documents if something were to happen, and to ensure there are no mix-ups when multiple people are responsible for care.
Schedule important services for them
You don’t have to be physically present to schedule necessary services for your elderly loved one. Various apps make it easy to connect professionals of all types with your loved one to provide what you can’t provide. TaskRabbit, for example, is one app that connects you with people in your area that can do odd jobs around the house. You can help your senior loved one use this by proxy and schedule help when they need to do anything from mowing the lawn or fixing a broken thermostat, to picking up groceries and medications. Similar apps exist for things like maids and housekeepers. Rover has a great app that connects you with local dog walkers, if your loved one has a pet to take care of.
Set up online bill pay and manage their accounts
As long as it’s ok with them, you can really help from afar by keeping track of all of your loved one’s various accounts. Set up a username and password and take bill paying online when it comes to electric, gas, water, and cable bills. Manage their entertainment accounts like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Gain access to their bank account info and set up online banking, so you can always help if they are in a bind.
Stay connected with face-to-face chat
Even if your senior loved one isn’t that fond of new technology, there are plenty of simple, free apps that let you talk with them face-to-face. Video chat has exploded over the past five years, and it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with anyone – no matter where they are.
Some of the best options for this include Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and Apple’s FaceTime.
It’s hard to love someone dearly and want to take care of them when you live far away. At times you may feel helpless to care for them. Visits are important, of course, but if you live pretty far away from them you must rely on technology – pretty heavily. The good news is that modern tech is making it easier and easier by the day to be a great long-distance caretaker.
Written by Marie Villeza
Marie Villeza is passionate about 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.