When a beloved family member lives in a different area and gets to the point where they begin needing help with daily tasks, it can be difficult for all involved. Knowing when and how much help a family member needs can be difficult enough, but these problems can be compounded when you live far away. In this blog, we will look at some tips for family members and other caregivers to use when they are far away from loved ones who potentially need in home care.
Arrange for someone to drop by for you.
If you have moved away from your hometown, but your elderly parent is still there, it’s likely that you know people in town who can plan a quick trip to visit your mom, dad, aunt, cousin, etc. There is nothing quite like a trusted set of eyes to let you know how your loved one is doing in your absence, and most people would be happy to help a friend in this way.
Take advantage of video technology.
With tools like Skype, Google Hangout, and FaceTime, it’s easier than ever to “see” someone, even if they’re hundreds of miles away. Aside from being a wonderful vehicle to catch up with the loved ones in your life, using a live video allows you get more contextual information as well - which you can then use to assess quality of life. For instance, does the room look warm and inviting, or are the lights off, is it very messy, are there dirty dishes lying around, etc. Taking in these additional clues can provide important information in deciding whether someone would benefit from in home care or not...do they need help with meal preparation, light housekeeping, companionship, etc?
Call at unexpected times.
Having a normal schedule to catch up is fine and dandy, but there are benefits to randomizing phone calls as well. This is one way to break up the monotony of “what did you do today?” conversations, and provides an opportunity for your loved one to share details of their life. For instance, call after a doctor’s appointment, before the weekly BINGO session, or around dinner time. That way, you can ask specific questions, and get a feel for whether your loved one is keeping up with social activities, going to scheduled appointments, and more. Chances are, they’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear from you!
Don’t be afraid to have a direct conversation about in home care.
Oftentimes, people tend to avoid potentially awkward or difficult conversations. Whether an elderly parent needs help with daily tasks or not has the potential to be one of those conversations. (For tips on how to have “the Talk,” read here.) But there is no substitute for a direct, compassionate query - it’s ok to put your elderly loved one on the spot about whether they could use some help, are having some mobility or memory issues, etc. Even if you can’t be there in person, asking important questions like these can lead to a healthier, happier, more open relationship with an elderly loved one...and it’s one way to discover whether their quality of life can be improved.
These four tips are easy to implement for family members who do not live in the same area as their elderly loved ones. Not only can they enhance personal relationships, these tips can help you make sure that your parent or family member is happy, healthy, and doing as well as possible. To see more resources for caregivers, please visit our blog or contact us by clicking below to see how Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses can help your own family!