By CLAIRE WENTZ
Are you a long distance caregiver to an elderly parent or relative? Being a caregiver can be exhausting, and if you live far away from your loved one, you’re likely to feel a lot of stress about their health and well-being. To make sure your elderly loved one is healthy and enjoying their retirement in style, follow these tips for long-distance caregiving without all the stress.
If you’re acting as a caregiver for a loved one, be sure to gather all the appropriate paperwork you’ll need to provide the best care. Help your loved one prepare a power of attorney document, and keep property deeds, legal documents, and their will in one place. Copy all their healthcare records and medication charts and collect all financial documents so you can easily find the documents you need to provide the best care without stressing.
Keeping in Contact
Be sure you have a complete list of contacts in your phone and in an address book. Include doctors, legal offices, and the nursing staff at your loved one’s assisted living home (if they live in one). Make sure these numbers are up-to-date, so you’ll know who to call in case of an emergency.
Along with collecting all the important contact numbers, make sure the doctors and staff have your contact information, including your home, office, and cell. Let them know they can call you at any time of day or night. You’ll rest easy and avoid a lot of stress knowing you’ll hear right away if your loved one has an emergency.
Review Your Loved One’s Phone Plan
One of the best ways to keep in touch with your loved one in another city or state is through their phone. Smartphones provide a lot of peace of mind to caregivers. Use location sharing to see exactly where your loved one is, so you know they’re safe. Medical alert systems will keep you up-to-date on their health and notify you if your loved one has a fall or accident.
Does your loved one have the right phone plan to match their needs? Some carriers have wireless plans for seniors that include unlimited data, talk, and text so they’ll be able to call you as often as they want to without worrying about overage charges. If your loved one is over the age of 55, they can get a discounted phone plan that matches their needs. You’ll be able to keep in touch with them despite the distance, and provide support without stressing.
Say “Thank You”
As a long-distance caregiver, you can’t always be there for your loved one. You appreciate all the care your loved one receives from doctors, nurses, caregivers, neighbors, and office staff, so express your gratitude to all these professionals and friends who provide such great care to your loved one. Choose an upcoming holiday and bring gifts on your next visit. Everyone loves chocolates, cookies, or flowers, and staff will gladly go the extra mile in providing exceptional care if they know you appreciate their time and effort.
One of the biggest stressors of being a long-distance caregiver is the financial burden of frequent trips to visit your loved one. Flights, gas, vehicle rentals, and hotel costs add up fast, and you may feel guilty you can’t visit more often. Don’t be afraid to ask family members for financial assistance in caring for your loved one. Siblings, family members, or even your elderly loved one can help cover the costs of providing the best care.
Give your loved one the care they deserve, and make sure they’re happy and healthy even if you’re far away. Don’t get stressed or burnt out by the responsibilities, and plan your visits to make the most of your time together. Stay organized and follow these tips to provide your loved ones with the best care.
Claire Wentz is the principal of caringfromafar.com