For an adult child, long-distance caregiving and dementia challenges are worrisome.
It’s not easy trying to be supportive and helpful from a distance. But there are a few things you can consider doing to make it easier for you and helpful for your parents. Here are some practical suggestions.
- Learn as much as you can about your parents’ medical, physical, social, cognitive needs. Stay informed and educated.
- Be honest with yourself. Admit to yourself what you can do, what you are willing to do and what your limitations are so a care plan can be implemented accordingly.
- Look into local resources that can help manage your parent(s) medical needs, financial decisions, or provide home care services. For example, a geriatric care manager can assess your parents’ medical needs and develop a care plan and/or monitor their care while you’re away. A professional daily money manager can manage their finances if this is something you’re unable to do. An in- home care agency could provide help with activities of daily living, such as, personal hygiene care, light housekeeping, companion care, transportation, household chores, and meal preparation.
- Obtain online access to your loved one’s medical, financial and legal records. Monitor their finances remotely and set up automatic bill pay, or you can pay their bills online for them. Have their mail forwarded to you so you can monitor potential scams.
- Technology can also be very helpful. Adding Alexa to the house simplifies many tasks and can answer questions, play music, order groceries among other things once it is set up. Alarms and devices such as RING can alert them to someone at the door and allow them to monitor for safety. Medication reminders and Medisets can help with medications.
- Schedule conference calls with family members, medical doctors, and the care community where they reside so you can stay up to date about your loved one’s well – being.
- Establish an emergency plan. Prepare for the unexpected. Here are some actions to try to implement.
- Encourage your parent(s) to sign up for a Life or Medical Alert program and if they’re unwilling to do this, consider installing cameras in their home
- Have the following six legal and medical documents completed: 1) Living Will and Trust, 2) POA (Power of Attorney) of Finances 3) POA (Power of Attorney) of Medical, 4) POLST, 5) DNR, 6) HIPAA
- Make a list of your parent (s) doctor’s and medications
- Make a list of each parent’s on-line passwords
- Have the name and contact number of a local emergency contact person so if something should happen to a parent there is someone local who can be contacted immediately and can visit your parent in the emergency room or if they are hospitalized.
There is no substitute for you, but these things can help considerably, and lessen your concerns and responsibilities to some degree. They help with long-distance caregiving dementia challenges. Then when you DO visit, the visit can be fun, and you can do enjoyable and festive activities rather than focusing on tasks such as bill paying or household repairs.
By paying attention and understanding your parents’ current needs, you can create positive solutions and it allows you and your loved one to have a more joyful visit during the holiday season.
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