Is living far away from the person you care for causing you guilt? It is normal to have feelings of guilt when you do not live close to the person you are caring for. If you live more than one hour away from your loved one, you are considered a long-distance carer.
Here are some tips for making it work.
Keep Informed and Stay up to Date
Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s health and daily routine. It is important to maintain an accurate and current picture of their health and abilities.
- If your loved one has any ongoing health conditions, learn how they affect your loved one’s daily life, what medications and doctor visits are required, etc. If you are their health care power of attorney (or proxy), you will have access to detailed information from their health care providers. If not, you will need to rely on updates from your loved one or whomever is the health care power of attorney.
- Make a list of names and contact information that includes family members, friends, neighbours and anyone else who sees your loved one regularly. Ask everyone’s permission to share the list with the others.
- Stay in regular contact with the people on the list. You may hear from them about sudden changes in your loved one’s appearance, for example, which might be a cause of concern. A neighbour might let you know that your loved one’s home needs maintenance or that they have not seen your loved one outside in a while.
Make a Plan
Once you have assessed your loved one’s situation and needs, it is time to determine what your role—and the role of others—can and should be.
- If someone else is taking the caregiving lead, find ways you can help that work for you. You might be able to manage finances online, for example, or research helpful resources in your loved one’s community.
- If you are the primary carer, find out if any relatives, neighbours or friends are willing and able to help. Set up a plan or calendar and share it with everyone involved.
- Research organizations in your loved one’s community that might offer support such as free or low-cost meal delivery programs, free transportation services or even volunteer visitors. Also look into local in-home care providers and care homes, so you have information on those options handy if and when it is needed.
Engage Professional Help
Now that you have your plan and research in place, you are well prepared should you need to engage home care services from a home care provider. An important side benefit of working with home care providers is that they can serve as your long-distance “eyes and ears”—especially if an emergency happens.
- You can take on the services of a home care provider and their carers and support workers will do things like laundry and light housekeeping, get your loved one to their doctor appointments, cook meals, or do a variety of other tasks.
- Home care carers and support workers can also make companionship visits, which include socialisation and doing activities with your loved one which can have a big impact on their mental health.
- Some home care providers provide personal care and nursing care services and specialist care for specific situations such as post-hospital rehabilitation and support, palliative support, cancer care and more.
- Some home care providers are approved Home Care Package Providers under the Aged Care Act and these providers can provide government funded care from basic assistance and support (level 1), through to skilled nursing care (level 4) depending on their level of approved provider status. You could be included as one of the client advocates and contacts for your loved one in which case the provider will work with you and the client to develop a care plan.
- Some Home care providers can help by coordinating the work of financial and legal advisers, elder law attorneys, community services and more.
Decide How Technology Can Help
Your loved one may already be comfortable with smartphones or video chats, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic-related quarantines. If not, see if they are open to learning. There are many other options available to help you track their well-being.
- For personal safety, look into smartwatches (with apps that can detect falls, track heart rate and rhythm, and more) and medical alert devices.
- Security cameras set up outside the home can give you peace of mind about visitors. Inside cameras may seem intrusive and must be discussed with your loved one. If they agree, consider using one in a common area such as the kitchen or living room.
- E-scripts and other medication management such as pre-dispensed blister packs can help you assist your loved ones from a distance.
Assure Your Loved One That They Are the Decision-Maker
In whatever decisions you make about caring for your loved one from a distance, always remember they are entitled to dignity and choice. Decisions about how and where they live are theirs to make, unless, of course, they are incapacitated.
Keep up to date with COVID 19 information on the following links:
Australian Government Department of Health
Victorian Health and Human Services
WA Department of Health
Tasmanian Department of Health
Northern Territory Department of Health
Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care, and assistance to seniors (elderly and aged care), and any adult who needs our care at home including adults living with a disability who want to continue to live independently or age in their home. Right at Home is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved ones and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. With no admin or subscription fees Right at Home allows you to get more care from your package or budget.
Right at Home is a 'My Aged Care' government approved, home care provider for levels 1 – 4 and offers flexible in-home care services such as nursing care, after hospital care, post-operative care, respite care, dementia and Alzheimer's care. Right at Home also offers assistance with daily living and personal care such as grooming, hygiene, transport, shopping, meal prep, domestic services and social support, so your loved one can enjoy a more independent, vibrant life. Our nurses and caregivers are screened, highly trained, and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one.
To find out more, please give us a call on 1300 363 802 or visit our website.
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