If you are currently doing all you can to take care of your elderly parents from a distance, you are not alone. Around 34 million Americans are caregivers for an aging parent, and of that number about 15 percent live at least one hour away, according to a report by MetLife. Furthermore, nearly one-third of adults who are caring for their parents from afar are taking care of a parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
To keep tabs on your elderly parents while still allowing them to be as independent as possible, consider the following tips:
Rely on Technology
There are a variety of ways to use technology to keep an eye on your aging folks. For example, if your parents are comfortable with the idea, purchase home monitoring cameras to keep an eye on them. You can access the footage from the Internet and know right away if one of them has fallen or is having some other emergency.
Another less invasive way to keep track of your parents with technology is through the Fitbit. These amazing wearables keep tabs on the person’s blood pressure, sleep quality and heart rate and uploads its data to the Fitbit website. If your parents choose to share their data, you could have access to the results and have a good idea about their day-to-day health and habits.
Still anotheroption is a smartwatch like the Apple Watch. These wearables include features like GPS, step tracking and Siri messaging, which helps you stay connected with your aging parents and put your mind at ease.
Schedule Family Meetings
To be an effective long-distance caregiver, MayoClinic suggests scheduling family meetings with everyone who is involved with your parents’ care. Communicate via web chat or phone so you can go over your goals and concerns and divide up duties. This is a great opportunity to compare notes with the others and make sure everyone has all of the pertinent information they need, such as contact numbers, insurance information and doctors’ phone numbers.
If your parents are comfortable signing a release to allow you to speak with their caregivers, stay in touch with the doctors as much as you can. Schedule conference calls and discuss any concerns you have with them.
Learn About Their Health Issues
If one of your parents has been diagnosed with dementia or any other type of health issue, research the condition as much as possible. This helps you understand some of the behaviors they may exhibit, what to expect in terms of the course of the illness and possible treatments.You also might want to look intothe criteria for Silver Alerts in your parents’ state of residence. These alerts use a variety of media outlets, like radio and TV, to broadcast information about missing persons, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other mental disabilities. Some states allow Silver Alerts for anyone over 65 while others allow it for anyone who has been diagnosed with a condition that impacts their mental ability. Although it can be hard to think of your beloved parent going missing, it’s best to be proactive now and look into your options should the worst happen and your mom or dad wanders away from home.