Submitted by Claire Wentz
Caring from across the miles can be difficult, particularly when it comes to ensuring older adults have access to the care they need. That worry can be compounded when your loved one has the early stages of dementia. Fading Memories podcast is an exceptional resource to help remote caregivers make the most informed choices about what’s best for those they love.
Know When You Need Help
Everyone’s memory begins to diminish with age, but there are certain signs you can watch for to gauge if someone you care about is in the early stages of a degenerative neurological disease like Alzheimer’s. The changes can be subtle at first, like misplacing keys or forgetting an address. Over time, the changes can become more serious, such as your loved one forgetting their name or where they live. It can be hard to notice these gradual signs, so regular communication, paired with scheduled check-ins with local caregivers, can help you maintain an understanding of your loved one’s overall health and mental well-being.
Stay in Touch
Plan regular check-ins with your loved one, whether by phone or video chat. Employ the help of local friends, relatives, or neighbors to be your eyes and ears when you can’t be there — simply to let you know if there are concerns, if an emergency arises, or if you can’t reach your loved one at a regularly appointed check-in time. You might also have peace of mind by employing local eldercare services to help with everyday needs, like transportation to doctor appointments, running errands, light housekeeping, or meal preparation.
Use Safety Technology
Fortunately, there are multiple ways in which you can use technology, both to stay in touch with your family member and monitor their safety from a distance. For example, location tracking and medical alert systems with GPS features can keep you informed about your family member’s location in the event they become lost. You can also utilize voice-activated in-home systems that allow your family member to summon emergency services when needed. This can be an invaluable resource if an elderly parent is at risk of falling.
Activities of Daily Living
According to SeniorGuidance.org, as people age, some of the activities of daily living become more difficult to manage on their own, such as bathing, getting dressed, and handling personal hygiene practices. It might be beneficial to hire a private nursing service or home health aide to assist in these matters. You can find recommendations to qualified agencies and licensed, vetted individuals through your local division of aging services or eldercare. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a wide range of resources related to aging and elder caregiving.
Ensure Regular Social Interactions
In addition to monitoring the health and safety of your loved one, positive social interactions can also help ensure a good overall quality of life. Visits, outings, and interactions with others can keep those you care about from feeling isolated and alone. Look at offerings through local senior centers and community recreation centers for options. If your family member resides in a retirement community or assisted living facility, connect with the social director for recommendations.
It’s hard when you live far away from people you care about. Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to stay connected. Don’t wait until you need help to reach out. If you have a relative whose health is declining, start looking at resources and collecting information now. Then you’ll have it on hand when you need it.