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Tools and Tips That Make Life Better for Long-Distance Caregivers and Their Ageing Parents

elderly person with dementia looking down, waiting for his long-distance caregivers

This post has been written by Martin Block from Able Rise for Disabled Living.

Assisting your senior loved one from afar as as long-distance caregivers can feel like an uphill battle, but there is help. Employing technology and services makes it easier to meet the needs of an ageing parent.  Here is some great advice to bring you peace of mind.

First, gather your tribe

Even with all the technology and services available to help long-distance caregivers, it’s still best to have at least one person you know and trust that you can call on to help your senior loved one when needed.  Work with friends, family members, physicians, or the senior’s neighbours to establish a supportive network. This is an important step to take first so that everyone on your “team” is aware of any outside services that are brought in.

This is also a good time to help your senior loved one connect with people they may have lost touch with or even become estranged from, whether due to a long-distance move, a prior substance abuse issue that caused emotional trauma, or an argument that got out of hand and was never resolved. Your loved one will need all the support they can get, and re-establishing bonds will help prevent them from becoming isolated, especially if they live alone.  If you encounter someone reluctant to take part in your senior’s care plan — or even their life — try your best to encourage them to try to make amends, or at least hear out your senior loved one.

Video monitoring

According to some experts, technological improvements and lowered costs make video monitoring a viable option. This is a great option for long-distance caregivers. Video cameras are typically small, and installation is easy.  Capabilities include options such as wide-angle views, night vision, high definition video, sound and motion sensitivity, and two-way audio.  “Nest Cam” and “Simplicam” are two of the products you can try.

Sensor monitoring

Sensor monitoring allows your loved one more privacy.  Wireless sensors are installed in the home to detect unusual activity. You can receive notifications via email, phone or text. “Silver Mother” offers small sensors that monitor items such as pillboxes, television sets, the refrigerator door, and doors to the home.

Sites matching onsite care

Another useful tool are websites that match caregivers with patient needs. These sites allow you to request what needs are to be met and can get help on-demand. Cera, a London-based provider, has been likened to Uber but for senior care. Similarly, apps such as “Care” are set up for you to select caregivers, who are vetted before they are available for selection.  You set up a profile, correspond with those who could be a good fit, and choose your caregiver. Once hired, caregivers are paid through a payroll management system.

Support apps

Your network of care should remain connected at all times. That’s where apps like Jointly come into play. CarersUK explains that this simple phone-based program can organise notes between carers and ensure everyone has access to task lists and a communal calendar.

Senior move managers

Consider looking into a senior move manager if your loved one needs to move and/or downsize. These specialists help navigate every aspect of moving and downsizing, including decluttering, hiring movers, donating items, disposal, and even sending items to you and other family members who live far away. They do the packing and unpacking and can set up utilities and cable television.

Downsizing can be stressful for seniors, and stressful for those trying to help them through it. Here are some great tips from experts:

  • Discuss details with your parent, such as what will distributed to family members, what will be given away to charity, and what items will be sold.
  • Facilitate sales. If your parent wants to sell items through an online service, offer to help. This is particularly important if your parent isn’t internet savvy. You can research what things are worth and do the listings yourself. There are “valet” services that can sell items on behalf of others as well, which take a percentage of sales.  You ship your item to the valet and then receive payment upon the successful sale. If sales need to close in-person, some police departments now offer parking lot exchanges for your safety.

Services and apps that help you both

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by assisting your ageing parent across the miles, there is help. Use technology and services to support your parent from afar. Even if you can’t be there for everything in person, you will have peace of mind knowing your loved one’s needs are met.

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