Long Distance Care: Utilizing Technology and Other Services to Care for Your Senior Loved One from Afar
Marie Villeza of ElderImpact.org was kind enough to share this article with us. Each family finds support through a different set of tools. Here’s to those families that can embrace technology!
Photo Credit: jcfrog, Pixabay
Whether you live next door or across the country from your elderly loved one, the responsibility of providing care is still present, and whether you provide care from afar or in person, it’s not easy. Caring from afar, however, is different. “On-site hands-on caregivers are like day laborers who do the actual physical work. Distant caregivers are like off-site managers who coordinate services and delegate responsibilities,” says The New York Times. If you live far away, you can use technology, apps, and services to help coordinate care and stay connected.
If your loved one is aging in place, you may worry about his or her general comfort and the completion of daily tasks, such as cooking and taking medications. There are many tech-savvy devices that can give you peace of mind. For example, the Tricella Smart Pillbox will ensure your loved one follows his or her medication regimens. If he or she forgets to take the pills or accidentally takes the wrong ones, you’ll receive a notification. For safety around the home, there are motion sensors that turn on lights when someone enters the room or that alert you when activity occurs at unusual times, such as in the middle of the night.
As we age, mild changes in memory and other thinking skills are expected. For example, your loved one can experience brief lapses in memory or attention, such as misplacing car keys or forgetting to take medications. Some seniors can even forget to eat a meal. The DeRoyal Reminder Rosie Clock provides up to 25 personal reminders for your loved one to take medications, eat lunch, or call the doctor. You can even record the messages yourself to give it a more personal touch.
A major issue of being far away from loved ones is a lack of feeling connected. Experts have found that a lack of social relationships affects mortality as much as smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity. Also, seniors who are lonely “have an increased risk of dying sooner and are more likely to experience a decline in their mobility, compared to those who are not lonely.” Skype, Facebook, and Facetime are popular ways for people to stay in touch despite long distances. However, some seniors may struggle to use these options. The EasyFamily AppSuite features an easy interface and provides a fast and easy launch of email, video messages, Skype, Facetime, Flickr, Facebook photo albums, and more.
Depending on the cognitive function and/or mobility of your loved one, he or she may require some type of in-home services. There are two types of care: custodial care and skilled care. A person receiving home care is being provided with custodial care (also called non-skilled care, personal care, or attendant care). This person requires help with activities of daily living (ADLs), including bathing, dressing, laundry, cooking, eating, and errands.
A person receiving home health care is being provided with skilled care services, which are carried out by skilled or licensed medical personnel, such as a Registered Nurse (RN). Activities can include checking vitals, assisting with medical equipment (ventilators, artificial limbs, etc.), and changing dressings. Many home health care providers also offer custodial care during visits.
These two options give your loved one higher levels of care, but they’re more costly. Some seniors need less assistance than these two options, so it doesn’t make sense to pay for unnecessary help. These seniors can handle many ADLs, but may need help with more physically demanding tasks. For these seniors, you may simply hire a cleaning service to clean the home or a lawn service to mow the grass. If your loved one has a dog, two 30-minute walks a day are usually necessary but can be too physically demanding. Consider hiring a dog walker to help ensure your loved one is safe and his or her pet is taken care of.
Caring for your loved one is difficult, and doing so from far away can present issues. Thankfully, technology, apps, and services are available to give you peace of mind and make caring from a distance a little easier. You can utilize these options to stay connected, monitor your loved one’s health and safety, and to ensure your loved one is well cared for.
Author: Marie Villeza (ElderImpact.org)