Caring from a Distance: How You Can Help
By John Moreland
Image via Unsplash
It’s difficult to watch a loved one age when you’re too far away to lend a hand. However, distance doesn’t mean you’re helpless. Whether your loved one is 100 miles or 1,000 miles away, there are things you can do to help them age in place safely and comfortably, including these three solutions.
Video Chat Regularly
It’s hard to tell how someone is doing from voice or written word alone. For a more complete picture of your loved one’s well-being, schedule regular video chats. Talking face-to-face, even virtually, reduces seniors’ loneliness and helps you make a visual assessment of their health.
When chatting, take note of your loved one’s appearance. Does she appear well-groomed and lively, or ashen and disheveled? What about the home? If you notice messes in the background, it could signal that your loved one is struggling to keep up at home.
Most video chat applications are easy to use, but if an older adult isn’t accustomed to smartphones or tablets, you may need to provide instruction. Set up the chat application with your contact information so all they have to do is click and call.
Hire Home Services
Even older adults who don’t require professional caregiving can benefit from help at home. Use online services like Care.com, TaskRabbit, and Rover to hire pre-screened professionals for services like house cleaning, dog walking, lawn care and minor home repairs. It’s hard to manage a household when you’re elderly and have mobility issues. Services like these fill the gaps so aging adults can live at home for longer without sacrificing quality of life.
For those who need a higher level of service, turn to apps that specifically target the elderly. As Adweek discusses, mobile apps like Honor provide on-demand caregiving to seniors aging in place. Caregivers can remind seniors to take medication, help with grooming and meal preparation, and meet other non-medical needs while you get updates from a distance.
Identify Transportation Options
Most older adults are reluctant to relinquish their driver’s license. Losing the ability to drive signifies a loss of independence that few aging adults are eager to accept. By identifying alternate transportation options for your loved one, you can make it so they can get around without risking anyone’s safety. If you’re not sure whether your loved one belongs behind the wheel, familiarize yourself with Daily Caring’s warning signs that it’s no longer safe to drive.
These are some of the transportation solutions available to older adults:
- Public transit: As long as there’s a stop nearby, public buses and subways are a great way for older adults to get around town. Low-income adults may be able to get reduced fare on public transit. However, waits can be long and stops far apart, so don’t make public transit the only option.
- Medical transportation: Larger hospital systems and some community groups offer medical transport to take patients to and from medical appointments. While Medicare doesn’t cover non-emergency medical transportation, those who qualify for Medicaid may be able to receive assistance with the cost of medical transit.
- Taxis and rideshares: When public transportation isn’t an option, taxis and rideshares enable older adults to run errands, attend social engagements, and get anywhere else they need to go. Unfortunately, they’re also costly. Consider installing a rideshare app on your loved one’s phone or tablet using your own payment information to subsidize transportation expenses.
- Volunteer driving programs: The most obvious volunteer driving program is church vans that take older adults to and from religious services. However, other volunteer driving programs may exist to drive people to medical appointments and other destinations. Reach out to community organizations serving those aging in place and low-income individuals to learn what’s available in your loved one’s area.
Not everyone has the pleasure of living down the road from an aging loved one, and not everyone can pick up their own life to become a full-time caregiver. Nonetheless, you can play an important role in your aging loved one’s life. By turning to creative solutions like these, you make it possible for your loved one to age in place.