Caregiving from Afar by Deb Hares
When trying to care for a friend or family member from afar, there are difficulties inherent in the situation. Some drawbacks include not being able to respond to a concern immediately, not being able to see what is going on with your own eyes (and relying on others to communicate effectively), and parting out care to different friends, helpers, or providers. Some of the tips below are applicable not only to caregiving from afar, but just a good place to start when caring for another.
Long distance caregiving:
Research and educate yourself about the illnesses that the person suffers from. If dementia is a concern, call the Alzheimer’s Association at (800)272-3900.
Build a care team: include the loved one, family near and far, neighbors and friends in the area, legal team (lawyers), financial advisors, funeral director, and cemetery personnel.
Find and file all important document (birth certificates, deeds, service records and discharge information, marriage licenses and divorce decrees).
Add another TRUSTWORTHY person to bank accounts.
Complete advanced directives: Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Living Will, and assign the Executor of the Last Will.
Timeliness counts! These papers must be found and filed while the person can still legally make these decisions; in the case of dementia, it can even depend on the time of day!
Ideas to help with finances:
Pay online or pay using auto-pay and request paperless billing.
Direct deposit all recurring income (i.e., Social Security, pensions, etc.).
See an attorney about putting the home in a trustworthy person’s name with life use for the loved one.
Ideas for Health and Safety:
Install handrails on stairs.
Get a bath stool.
Join a meal delivery service.
Use a grocery delivery service.
Have prescriptions delivered.
Get a medical alert system or button in case of falls.
If you have WiFi, use Alexa for reminders.
Get a tablet or iPad to have games and books available.
Go to medical appointments and summarize them in writing.
Make a binder with phone numbers, addresses, how things work, telemarketer scams, etc.
Keep one calendar for appointments and recurring events.
Put flashlights in the bedroom, bathroom, and living room (with spare batteries) in case of a power outage.
Communicate early with loved one of the dangers of hurting themselves and others.
Listen to cues from them (i.e., getting lost in familiar areas, feeling funny, look for new dents)
Get a NYS picture ID to replace the driver’s license.
Make alternate plans for transportation (1-855-373-4040 in South Central NY)
Finally, keep a journal and listen to your loved one’s concerns. They may have trouble explaining a problem, but repeated attempts at different times of day may make the situation more clear.
Caring for a loved one can be rewarding, but also comes with its challenging moments. It’s important to get the support you need to take care of yourself and your loved one.
TOI offers a monthly caregiver support group in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. The group meets virtually on the third Tuesday of the month at 1:30PM.
Our Caregivers Support Group meets on the 4th Friday of each month at 2:00pm in-person at the Countryside Community Center, 9 Sheldon Guile Blvd., Owego and virtually with Go-To-Meeting.
For more information and virtual links, please call us at 607-687-4120 ext. 315 or visit https://tiogaopp.org/tools-for-caregivers/