Originally Published on Caringfromafar.com By Claire Wentz
(Photo via Pixabay)
Taking care of an elderly parent is often an emotionally taxing experience. Most of us are happy to care for a parent that did the same for us in our younger years, but when we live a great distance away from them it can be difficult figuring out just how to administer care. For adult children who do not live near their parent, consider how applications, services, and technology can benefit you in supporting your parent.
Know What Your Parent is Up Against
It is important that you are familiar with your parent’s health condition, regardless of whether you are administering care or not. Knowing what is potentially plaguing them can help explain some of their behaviors while making it easier for you to hold a conversation and offer substantive advice. Doing research on the physical and mental effects associated with family caregiving can also allow you to know what to expect from yourself as time progresses.
If your parent has a specific ailment or disease, read up on it. This will also allow you to be more knowledgeable when it comes time to identify potential health problems and schedule appointments, two tasks that can be handled from afar. Associations such as the Bright Focus Foundation for Alzheimer’s are common, and they offer information and advice that could make a caregiver and their patient’s life less perplexing and stressful. The internet is the greatest technological resource that we currently have access to, so utilize it to find out more about any condition your parent may have.
Keep in Touch
AARP estimates that as many as 45 million unpaid caregivers will be providing some form of support or service by 2020. Many of these caregivers will be the adult children of the elderly, and many of them are comfortable using various forms of technology, according to AARP. It is estimated that 97% of caregivers are comfortable using a computer, while 80% are comfortable using tablets and smartphones. This is important, because these are the primary devices that can be used to administer support to a loved one from a distance.
The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers webinars for caregivers who are unsure how, or to what extent, they can use technology in their caregiving. In addition, technology such as Skype and Facetime can be used to get face-to-face contact without having to travel. The health benefits of socializing are well-documented. While you should also arrange for your parent to have ample in-person socialization, using tech to stay in communication will liven their spirits and give them something to look forward to.
Remaining in regular contact also allows you to monitor chores that they need done. If they still own a pet, hire somebody to help take care of that pet. Whether it is a dog walker or dog sitter, aging can make it difficult for an elderly parent to take care of such responsibility on their own.
Know Your Apps
There are many apps that have been developed specifically for long-distance caregivers. The Caring Ties app, for example, offers health-related reminders, the ability to take notes on a loved one’s condition, and the option to log important health information like blood pressure. Other apps, such as Elder 411, offer valuable advice for caregivers. Remember, you can never know enough when it comes to caring for someone’s health. Technology has evolved rapidly, and taking advantage of new caregiving-related tech is a must for any long-distance caregiver.
Watching a loved one age is difficult for most, particularly when you are not able to be there in-person to offer support. But distance is unavoidable for most, and adult children of aging parents should not feel guilty that they live far away. There is plenty that caregivers can do to help, even from a distance. With present and emerging technology that benefits caregivers in their support efforts, the ability to provide care from afar is more possible than ever.