Distance makes caregiving more challenging, from knowing what’s needed, to getting tasks accomplished. Here are some tips:
Stay in touch. This is a win–win. You stay current on issues, and your relative gets the emotional boost.
- Use the phone, email, and/or Web-based video calls. Connect at different times of day to see what’s up. Is mom sleeping a lot? What’s on the table at dinnertime?
- Ask about any injuries or falls. This information is important but may not be volunteered.
- If your relative lives alone, consider having them give you an “I’m up!” call or text by a preset hour.
Plan ahead. When visiting, use your time wisely. Do things with your family member that are just plain enjoyable. But also
- go to medical appointments. Get to know the providers. Ensure that releases are signed so you can talk with the doctors as needed.
- address housekeeping issues. Fix potential hazards, such as loose rugs, rickety stairs, and burned-out light bulbs. Check for signs that regular help is needed, such as garbage or laundry piling up.
- get into the kitchen. What is in the refrigerator? In the cupboards? Scorched pans may indicate your relative is forgetting to turn off the stove, a common sign of memory problems.
- check the desk. And ideally, scan the checkbook. Is the register in order? Any overdue notices?
- connect with the neighbors. And/or nearby close friends. Give them your contact information.
Stay organized. At your home, keep a binder up to date with documents essential to healthcare and money management.
Are you a long-distance caregiver?
As the Iowa City, Muscatine and Cedar Rapids experts in family caregiving, we at Iowa City Hospice understand how precious your time is and how difficult it is to get everything accomplished from afar. You don’t have to do this alone. Give us a call at 1-800-897-3052, toll-free.