While you may want more than anything to live in close proximity to your aging loved one, sometimes that’s just not geographically possible. Work, other family members, finances, and life, in general, may be keeping you apart. However, staying connected and involved in his/her care from a distance, while challenging, is possible.
Here are some tips for keeping connected and involved:
Schedule a daily phone call.
Pick an agreed upon time and call your loved one at that time every day. It can just be a few minutes to say hi and check-in. He or she may be lonely; this will give them something to look forward to every day and it shows that you care. You will get an idea of what is going on day-to-day, get a feeling if something seems off, and find out what they may need. If your loved one is technologically savvy, you can even set up a FaceTime or Skype call every once in a while for a more interactive experience.
Keep a contact list.
If your aging relative is still living at home, it’s a good idea to keep the phone numbers of his/her neighbors and friends on hand since you can’t easily stop by to check-in or get there quickly in case of an emergency. You’ll have a bunch of trusted individuals who can pop in and report back if needed.
Check-in with their caregivers/medical team.
Whether your loved one is being cared for in an assisted living facility, nursing home, or his/her own home, it’s a good idea to schedule a routine call with the team who is providing care. You’ll get updates on their health and gain an additional perspective into their overall well-being. If other relatives live nearby and visit often, have them fill you in with updates as well.
Organize their paperwork and/or finances.
This is something your elderly loved one could probably use help with, and you don’t need to be there in person to do it. If there’s an emergency, your loved one’s paperwork will need to be in order. Here is a list of documents you may want to work on filling out and make sure they are easily accessible.
While you may not be able to get there often, it will mean the world to him/her when you do. Plan your visit so that you do something your loved one enjoys like watching a movie or getting something to eat. But also make time to assess their situation and take care of anything they need.
Here are some more ideas for staying connected.