The following is a guest post by Marie Villeza of ElderImpact.org. Her mission is to empower seniors against ageism by providing information they need to keep control of their own lives. Marie developed ElderImpact.org to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice.
The famous Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” When the world and its technologies move so fast, we struggle to keep up — sometimes we resist it — but our life can be easier if we embrace the changes of time’s innovations and learn to use them. The modern world has certainly made long-distance communication more convenient, and if you are care for an elderly parent from far away, you may have some help.
What is a long-distance caregiver?
Family dynamics continously change, but when a parent becomes elderly, roles are often reversed. As reported by “Today,” according to the National Institute on Aging, 7 million Americans fit the definition of long-distance caregivers. This could include taking care of someone else’s medical needs, living arrangements, and/or finances from a remote location.
Technology as a bridge
Being a long-distance caregiver can be made easier if your loved one uses technology and learns computer applications. Seniors are getting better at using these technologies. They can install useful apps on a phone, tablet or computer. Forbes magazine suggests a list of the eight best apps for seniors. Here are a few common ones:
- Skype: A great way to talk and see how your loved one is doing. You can also set up conference calls with doctors to keep yourself informed of important updates or check in with the primary caregiver.
- Pillboxie: An app that helps people keep track of medications to ensure no dose is missed or late.
- Red Panic Button: A good safety app that allows for quick access to emergency services.
- Magnifying Glass with Light: This helps seniors read smaller print better.
Banking apps can also help you manage checking or savings accounts from far away, allowing you to assist your loved ones with important financial decisions.
If you’re getting ready to move your parents into some kind of assisted care, you might consider a range of available living options for seniors.
- Senior apartments: These are homes designed for people older than 55 who still have full mobility and independence.
- Senior living communities: These are like senior apartments, but they offer amenities like laundry services, housekeeping and meals, and help facilitate personal caregivers. These are designed for seniors who maintain a good amount of mobility and independence.
- Assisted living: These facilities offer more supervision, an on-duty nurse and amenities.
- Nursing homes: This is the option for seniors who need more around the clock care, medical attention, and assistance with most daily tasks.
If you live far away during the beginning process, there are online resources to help you find local places.
When it’s time for the elderly to move out of their home, it’s important to remember that leaving a home with decades of memories is no easy transition. Supporting seniors during this difficult time is important, as it is a strenuous experience.
As the New York Times reports, sorting through belongings is an emotional task. Seniors need someone to be there and explain the process, and why there are benefits to downsizing. This could include encouraging donations and giving away family heirlooms to younger generations. Getting rid of clutter, as the Huffington Post writes, allows for movement and freedom.
Our home often becomes and extension of ourselves, so walking through the process should be slow, without making your loved one feel too rushed or pressured.
An organization called the National Association of Senior Move Managers helps in the process of moving, including downsizing, hiring movers and cleaning up. This might be an option if you are far away and have to manage the process from a distance.
As we age, the world keeps moving and technology continues to impress us with its rapid movement forward. A long-distance caregiver has a difficult job and it often takes a toll, but using the available resources and taking advantage of technology can facilitate this tough responsibility. It can make things easier, save you time and energy, and most importantly, it can keep you close to your loved one in a way that was never possible before. Keep the mind young, as Henry Ford suggested, and learn new things every day.
Photo via Pixabay
Editing by Magpie Media