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Monday, August 10, 2020

15 Amazing Caregiving Tools for Long-Distance Family

Whether they’re down the street or across the country, you worry about your aging parent(s) living alone. But while you may not be able to pick up your life and move in with a senior loved one, you can make a difference in his/her life — even from a distance. Here are fifteen tools and services that help long-distance family members connect and care for their aging loved ones even from afar.

Community-Based Services

One of the most impactful things you can do as a long-distance caregiver is hire hands-on care for your aging family member. These are services you can hire to support a senior aging right where he/she is.

Lawn care and housekeeping

Long before seniors needed help dressing or bathing, they benefited from an extra set of hands around the house. Hiring house and yard services through platforms like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List takes the burden off of a loved one’s shoulders and reduces the odds of an accident occurring at home. Plus you can read reviews on these platforms to know who could be most helpful.

Pet care

Pet care also can frequently become challenging as we grow older. Since pets can provide valuable companionship to older adults, it’s worth paying for dog-walking and other pet care services to help an elderly loved one have the love of a pet at home.

In-home care

Families have a few options for in-home care depending on a senior’s needs, including companion care, home health aides, and home-based skilled nursing. When hiring in-home care, decide if you’ll go through an agency or hire a private caregiver.

Adult day services

Adult day services can be an alternative or an addition to in-home care. Also known as adult day care, adult day services provide seniors with a social outlet in a supervised setting. There are different types of adult day centers, including centers that specialize in Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

Caregiving Apps and Tools

Whether you’re relying on local relatives, hired caregivers, or a combination of two or more, coordinating care duties and schedules are challenging. These tools help long-distance caregivers get organized so that their aging loved ones receive the support they need, when they need it.

Caregiving apps

Whether you need a centralized place to store medication lists and insurance cards or an easy way to coordinate with local caregivers, caregiving apps have become the solution. Better yet, many of the best caregiver apps are absolutely free.

Secure cloud storage

Caregivers also need a secure place to store important paperwork, like powers of attorney and medical records, for their loved ones. For an option that’s safe yet accessible, turn to the cloud. Cloud storage solutions like Google Drive are encrypted and free for small amounts of storage.

Tracking Senior Health and Safety

As a caregiver, it’s important to know how your loved one is doing day to day. However, that’s difficult to do when you can’t drop in to say hello whenever you want. So, keep tabs on your aging parent’s well-being with helpful, high-tech tools like the following.

Medical alert systems

Medical alert systems have been around for a long time. While modern options include upgraded features like automated fall detection, most medical alert systems still rely on a wearable device paired with a base unit. Unfortunately, that means these systems only work at home, not while out and about.

Wearable mobile trackers

For a portable way to track a senior’s well-being, look to wearable devices like activity trackers and GPS devices for seniors prone to wandering. Since these options are more stylish and discreet than traditional medical alert devices, they’re also a good alternative for seniors who shun wearing such medical alert pendants.

Smart home sensors

To keep an even closer eye on senior loved ones, install smart home sensors that use artificial intelligence to learn a senior’s daily patterns and alert caregivers to unsettling changes. Some smart home devices for seniors will even remind them to take medication on schedule.

Keeping Seniors Safe at Home

Trackers help monitor your senior loved one’s safety at home, but they don’t necessarily make home a safer place to live. To reduce the odds of an accident at home, turn to the following tools and services to keep seniors living safely.

Home security systems

Home security systems not only keep intruders out, but with modern security gadgets like smart locks and doorbells, mobility-impaired seniors can answer the door without straining themselves. That makes the benefit of home security systems for seniors twofold.

Aging-in-place remodeling

To create a truly senior-safe home, families should invest in aging-in-place remodeling. While the services of aging-in-place remodeling contractors aren’t cheap, they can eliminate many accessibility barriers in a senior’s home, including narrow doorways and high thresholds that can make moving around the house for wheelchair-bound seniors or seniors unsteady on their feet difficult.

Professional organizing

Sometimes, the hazard isn’t the house itself but what’s in it. If your parent has a clutter problem, hire an organizer to help downsize his/her stuff and create a safer, healthier home for your loved one aging in place.

Transportation Services for Seniors

Driving can be dangerous for seniors. Unfortunately, so can staying home, as isolation in seniors is linked to a wide range of serious health problems. When it’s no longer safe for a senior parent to get behind the wheel, turn to driving services like these to keep your parent mobile and social.

Rideshare apps

Rideshare apps aren’t just popular among Millennials. Seniors are also using rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber to get around. With no need to provide directions to a taxi driver, rideshare apps help seniors stay mobile, even with mild cognitive impairment.

Supplemental transportation programs

Seniors with accessibility needs or who can’t afford a taxi or rideshare can utilize supplemental transportation programs. These community-based transportation services offer rides to a range of destinations and are typically volunteer-run.

Non-emergency medical transportation

Medicaid beneficiaries can get help getting to doctor’s appointments and adult day services thanks to the program’s non-emergency medical transportation benefit. Contact your state’s Health and Human Services department to learn more.

Caregiving comes in many forms. While some caregivers provide hands-on help with everyday life, others provide care from a distance, using high-tech tools and local services to close the gap between themselves and their senior loved ones. No matter what type of caregiver you are, let these tools help you keep your senior loved ones healthy, happy, and safe.

About the Author 

Claire Wentz is a former home health nurse and recognizes that our aging population means many more people will become senior caregivers over the years.