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Caring For A Long-Distance Elderly Relative: Practical Tips

When most people think about caring for an older member of their family, they think about tasks that require close proximity to that relative. For example, helping out with grocery shopping, popping in for visits, collecting prescriptions, and so on. However, while all of these methods of assistance are undeniably useful, they are almost impossible if you don’t live close to the relative in question.

The above problem is one that many people face; they no longer live close to family due to life and work circumstances, which makes caring far more challenging. Challenging, however, does not mean “impossible”, so here are a few tips for long-distance care to keep in mind…

#1 – Set a “check-in” time

When caring long-distance, there is the constant issue that you can’t simply “check-in” with your relative by dropping into their home. Instead, you have to call or send text messages – and if these aren’t replied to quickly, then it can be extremely concerning. On many occasions, this concern may be baseless – your relative may simply be napping, or hosting a friend; but if you don’t know that they are not responding for perfectly understandable reasons, you’ll obviously be concerned.

To prevent such a scenario, it can be useful to work out a specific “check-in” time with your relative, so they can always keep that time free in order to send a message or answer a call just to reassure you all is well. How frequently (daily, weekly, or monthly) you wish to check-in is your choice and depends on the level of care your loved one requires.

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#2 – Assist with health research

When seeking to manage the health conditions that are often associated with old age, information is incredibly beneficial – and thankfully, you can help with this research from anywhere in the world. You can look into specific conditions, potential treatments, even help out with cost concerns by browsing the likes of Medicare Nationwide, and then share your findings with your loved one and help them to action anything that may be beneficial.

#3 – Keep a schedule

There’s a lot to manage when caring for an elderly relative, so starting a new diary specifically for this purpose can help you to keep on track. You can use the diary to record prescriptions and when they need to be refilled, appointment dates and times, and notes on anything you need to follow up on, such as test results.

#4 – Get to know people in the local area

If at all possible, visit your relative in-person and seek to build relationships with those who can assist you with care. Your loved one’s relatives are the first port of call; make sure they have a copy of all your contact information, so you can be reached ASAP if necessary. In addition, introduce yourself to your relative’s medical care team, pharmacists, and any local community groups – such as their church – and ensure you have their contact information and vice versa.

These relationships will be incredibly important if your loved one ever requires assistance in person at short notice, and they can also help to keep an eye out for your relative and inform you if they notice any issues developing.

#5 – Embrace technology

From fall alert systems to home camera systems that can be accessed remotely, technological advancements have made long-distance caring far simpler than ever before. It’s worth discussing the options with your relative, working out which will they may find most useful, and then implementing your chosen ideas.

While long-distance caring is undoubtedly challenging, the ideas above should help you to provide the best possible assistance you can across the miles.

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