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You get a call from your parents’ neighbor that your mom has been hospitalized after a bad fall. Or that their home is beginning to show signs of neglect. For adult children whose parents live far away, calls like this can create challenges on how best to care for their loved ones.
Because we live in a much more mobile society than previous generations, families are often scattered from one end of the country to the other. So, when a parent or grandparent needs care and support, or when a care crisis occurs, families come face to face with the challenge of long-distance caregiving. It’s troubling when someone you love is in difficulty and you are far away. It’s complicated to know where to go for information and how to help.
Here are steps to take to understand your loved one’s needs, and to work with family, friends and professionals to be sure those needs are met.
The first step to being an effective caregiver is to be well-informed. During your next visit, pay attention to your loved ones’ health condition, the condition of their home, their appearance and grooming. Is mail piled up on the table? Have bills been paid? Is there nutritious food in the kitchen? If you have concerns, speak with your loved one’s healthcare provider, financial advisor and other professionals. Talk to friends and neighbors—and, most important, to your loved one. Ask lots of questions regarding their day-to-day activities. Make notes to refer to later.
Once you have sense of your loved one’s situation and needs, it’s time to determine what your role can and should be. Make sure the right people are involved in the plan—other family, and professionals who can offer input. Remember that unless your loved one is completely incapacitated, he or she must be centrally involved in developing the plan. Your goal is to support your family member’s maximum level of independence, self-esteem and dignity. Help arrange their long-term goals, don’t force them into a situation that only you think is best for them.
When you don’t live nearby, hiring a professional caregiver is a great way to help ensure your loved ones are being properly taken care of. A good place to start is with a care manager, who can assess your loved one’s needs, develop a customized care plan, and serve as an advocate during medical appointments. For more immediate assistance, a home care provider can help with bathing, grooming and dressing; light housekeeping and laundry; grocery and household shopping; transportation to appointments; and providing companionship. Fedelta provides both care management and home care services tailored to your specific needs and situation.
Nothing is quite the same as visiting your loved one in person, but between visits, here are five great ways to keep in touch with your loved one: