Tips For Managing Long Distance Senior Care Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge
If you live an hour or more away from the person you are providing care for, you may be considering a long-distance caregiver.
It is estimated that 10-15% of family caregivers are travelling an hour or more to take care of an aging loved one. In this case, even though you are travelling further you are still providing the same level of support as those who live close by.
Caregivers take on many significant roles: scheduling appointments, providing emotional support, helping with medications, managing finances, providing meals, and keeping the home clean and safe. This can be particularly challenging when these tasks have to be managed remotely.
There are several approaches that can be taken for family members that do not live in direct geographical proximity to an aging loved one.
1. Prioritize tasks
The benefits of establishing organization and making lists cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to long distance care. Anxiety and stress can be high when helping a loved one deal with health challenges. Having a list of priorities helps optimize the use of your time. If you’re feeling frustrated and are struggling to prioritize, here is an exercise that may be helpful for you.
- Make a list of everything you can think of that you need to do regarding caring for your loved one – appointments, housekeeping tasks, personal care, meal prepping, etc.
- Go through the list and give it a number between 1 and 5 (1 being of the highest priority, 5 being of the least priority)
- Rewrite your list, dividing the tasks into levels of priority
This strategy helps make it clearer as to what MUST be done versus what would be NICE to get done. Manage your expectations and decide what you can realistically achieve. Sometimes good enough really is good enough.
2. Bring in Support
For many of us asking for help can be a complicated process. Focusing on what is best for your loved one is often a helpful way to get around this issue. There are many ways to get assistance:
- Have a friend/family meeting, and see what tasks others would be willing to take on
- Look at local volunteer programs for seniors and those needing care
- Find an adult day centre to give your loved one a safe structured social environment
- Home care services can provide nursing and personal support workers that can be invaluable when caring from a distance
Caregiver support will allow you more time to focus on coordinating information and care, keeping family and friends informed of any changes, getting paperwork in order in case of emergency, and helping with finances and paying the bills.
3. Look to the Future
It can be difficult to think about the future, but it is important to know what your loved one expects and hopes for as they age. If it’s possible, discuss what the future holds and what your loved one would like in terms of care and assistance. Some conversation starters could be:
- Did you do a lot of caregiving, or was that delegated to other family members?
- In a perfect world, what does aging look like for you?
- If there was an accident and you needed care what would your expectations be?
- What did aging look like for your parents, and what would you like to be similar or different?
Talking about your loved one’s experiences with caregiving (as a provider or an observer of someone else’s experience) can be a good way to get insight into their thoughts and feelings. You can ask them if they’ve seen a friend or family member not give up their license when driving became dangerous or refused to accept a medical diagnosis.
This provides an opportunity to ask them how they would like you to handle the same situation. It is often easier to think clearly about what plan is best for future “might be, could happen” situations when we’re healthy. Likely this won’t be one big conversation, but a series of small conversations over time.
4. Finally, Self Care is Critical
If you notice you’re exhausted all the time, are easily irritated, or are constantly worried, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout or fatigue. Here are some self-care tips:
- Connect with other caregivers via support groups in person or online. Other caregivers can let you vent, give advice, and share resources.
- Be sure that you address your own health issues. If you’re sick yourself, it will be incredibly challenging to care for others.
- Give yourself time to recharge. Whether you like to exercise, curl up with a good book, listen to music, or meditate, find an activity that helps you recharge your batteries and commit to it.
Family caregivers can suffer from mental, emotional, and physical health problems due to the stress of caring for loved ones. Caregiving is a marathon – caring for yourself is an important part of keeping yourself on the road. This will help you stay aligned with the needs of your loved one and stay calm as your role evolves.
Promyse Home Care is Always Here for You and Your Loved Ones
To help alleviate any anxieties that arise, a senior care manager will accompany the staff member to introduce them to your loved one at the beginning of service. This care manager will also check in at regular intervals to ensure that the caregiver-client relationship is positive and comfortable.
The nurse case managers at Promyse are committed to keeping seniors living safely and independently at home.
Contact us today to find out more about our services for your loved ones in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge. Call (519-208-2000) to schedule a consultation.