If your elderly parent is living far away from you and having problems with day-to-day living, you're likely constantly worried. While hiring an in-home care service to look after them is likely your best choice, how do you manage matters from such a distance? You don't want to live in constant worry, but you can't be there yourself to make sure they're okay, and that's a dilemma shared by many others.
Here are eight ways to extend your love and care to elderly loved ones under in-home nursing care from afar:
1. Introduce Yourself To The Program Director Of The Home Care Service
Don't simply hire a service to look after your mom and/or dad—get to know the agency on a personal basis. Know who the person in charge is, and make sure you have their contact information. While you may never use it, it's good to have this information in case something comes up or you have questions or special requests.
2. Keep In Contact With The Direct-Care Staff
Knowing the direct-care staff as well is vital to overseeing the well-being of your elderly loved one and having access to a constant flow of information. Find out who they are, how you can get in touch with them, and what your elderly loved one thinks of the job they're doing.
3. Request Regular Care Updates
The in-home care service you use should be able to provide you with nearly any type of report, such as a weekly or bi-weekly update on your elderly loved one. They likely generate such reports for their own records, and as a relative or the paying customer, you should have access to this information. By reviewing the direct care received, you'll know about everything going on with your elderly loved one, such as:
- Personal hygiene
- Prescription use
- Nutritional needs
- Daily exercise
- Social activity
- Healthy mental stimulation
4. Use A Webcam To Oversee, Communicate, And "Virtually" Visit
You don't have to use a webcam as a spy tool for it to come in handy. On the contrary—cameras are a great way to say "Hello" to either your elderly loved one or the direct-care staff taking care of them. Also, your loved one will appreciate being able to see your smiling face, too.
5. Give The Home Care Agency Your Buying Power
If your elderly loved one has a need for new equipment, such as a replacement walker, supportive pillows, or something else that would make them safer and more comfortable, are funds readily available for purchases? You could make arrangements to send a check to the agency when they feel an item is needed, or you could buy items yourself online and have them shipped directly to the residence. Either way, so long as it's economically feasible for you, it's important to ensure that your elderly mom or dad has access to the things they need, even if you're not right there to see to it.
6. Get To Know The Landlord, Apartment Manager And/Or Neighbors Of Your Elderly Loved One
No matter how far away your parents are, you'll feel a lot closer if you have an independent person who can go in and physically check on them once in a while. If you know the landlord, apartment manager or a neighbor, be sure and keep them on your Christmas (or other holiday) card list or otherwise stay in contact. Pay someone 20 dollars, if you need to, just to have a pair of eyes and ears on your mom or dad, whenever the need arises.
7. Call Your Mom And/Or Dad Often
There's nothing like hearing the sound of your voice to warm your parent's heart, but it's also a great way to check up on them for yourself. Ask how they are, but be specific, too, and make sure all their needs and wants are tended to, including the little things that may mean a lot to them that others might overlook, such as newspaper and cable subscriptions, favorite snacks, and access to whatever piques their interest.
8. Take The Time To Visit When Possible
Although it may be difficult, both time-wise and financially, visiting your elderly parents now, while you still have the chance, is likely one of the best things you can do for them and for yourself. Before you visit, make a list of things you can bring or buy them that will make their daily lives easier, and don't forget to pick up something for the direct-care staff that see to their well-being on a regular basis. These people are your parent's lifeline and probably a means of them staying in their own homes, in addition to providing you with peace of mind. Flowers or a simple box of chocolates to say "Thanks" would be very much appreciated and reflect on your kindness and concern. Not to mention the fact that you'd make someone's day by your act of appreciation. Even if you showed up empty-handed, though, a visit from you is always a great idea.
Having elderly parents living far away can be scary, but with a good home care service and your long-distance TLC, you're doing everything you can to take the best possible care of the people you love.