06 Jun 9 Ways to be an Effective Distant Caregiver for Seniors
Many family caregivers have had to adjust to remote caregiving during the COVID-19 pandemic. For these caregivers and those that provide care virtually because they live far away, consider this guide to be supportive in your role.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many family caregivers have had to resort to being a distance caregiver for a loved one on the fly. Plus, there are millions of individuals that are already providing caregiving from afar in the United States. With the coronavirus outbreak, it is important for the new distance caregivers to know the best practices for them to be effective in providing support and care for their loved ones. Below, we discuss 9 ways to be effective as a distant caregiver.
Tips for Effective Remote Caregiving
Work to keep track of the loved one’s important information in a care log. Keep all relevant paperwork in one place. If you take some time to get organized, it can make your caregiving journey much easier. A health checklist can be a great place to get your efforts started.
Build a network of support
You can’t do it alone. Request help from people in the community. Be sure to talk to family relatives, neighbors, and friends. Consider reaching out to members of organizations such as religious, civic, and social ones. Make sure to let them know how to communicate with you and reach out to you when there is a concern.
Be realistic about what kind of support you can provide
If you aren’t able to be physically present, there is only so much you can do. While it may be frustrating or disheartening, don’t lose sight of the fact that you can still be extremely valuable in the support and care you provide. Generally, you can be most effective in providing needed emotional support, coordinating services, and paying bills or dealing with other administrative tasks for your loved one.
Direct meetings to guide care
Coordinate meetings for family members and other stakeholders. With these, work to delegate tasks, discuss long-term care planning, and implement and train on plans emergency protocols. We advise including the older adult in these meetings when they are able and capable of being there.
Be prepared to travel in emergent situations
Have a plan in place in case you need to be close by or present during urgent matters. Take a look at travel options in advance, just in case. Use proper planning in advance so if you are needed quickly, you can be there without delay.
Consider legal and financial issues
These are topics that should be addressed regardless of one’s caregiving situation. However, if loved ones are distant, then this could take on added importance. A senior loved one can think about and delegate decision-making authority if they are unable to do so or incapacitated. Also, through advance planning, you can improve the chance of having disagreements or a lack of clarity about one’s wishes down the road, while also protecting your loved one’s assets. Consider our elder law guide that can help families with their legal needs.
Make the most of your visits when you have them
Whether you are physically far or just staying away due to the risk of your loved one getting infected with coronavirus, maximize your time that you get with your senior loved one when you have it. Work to determine what their needs are and what needs are not getting met. Look for clues in what you see as opposed to what you hear over the phone. For example, if your loved one says they are fine but they seem to be struggling with completing daily activities of living, then consider taking action to rectify the situation.
Older adults tend to minimize their own shortcomings or challenges when questioned about it. Plus, you can set up appointments during your visit, and determine other problems or areas of concern that need to be addressed. Finally, this time is precious, so take advantage of the chance to enjoy your family time.
Seek professional help for your loved one
Caregiving is a major challenge even when you can do it hands on. When you are limited to caregiving from a distance, it becomes even more problematic and trying. Consider adding professional support for your loved one and educate yourself on the different care options. These include alternatives such as assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Adult day care centers and home care services may be a good place to start.
Take care of yourself
Caregiving from a distance doesn’t mean your job is easier. In fact, the stress and anxiety of not being able to provide hands-on support will most likely increase your levels of stress and caregiver burden on you. Therefore, don’t forget how important it is to ensure that you take time for yourself.
Long-distance caregivers may feel guilty or powerless. However, these important providers of care can be effective and powerful in their roles. There are many things a caregiver can do to assist loved ones without being physically present. Plus, you can have peace of mind knowing that you aren’t putting your loved one at potential risk of COVID-19 infection.
When caregivers need a little support on site, they may consider adding at-home personal caregivers. Chosen Family Home Care is a Philadelphia and greater Delaware Valley based home care agency that specializes in providing supportive and compassionate caregivers to seniors in the community.With a comprehensive needs assessment and mission-driven approach, we can determine the best course of action for you and your loved one, while considering your budget and the individual requirements that family caregivers need.