For those of us not yet at retirement age, many of us face an increasingly-common family dynamic: long distance caregiving.
Statistically, as caregivers, not only are we not alone, but long distance caregiving is becoming more common every day. Currently, 19 million Americans are over the age of 75, and by 2020, that number climbs to 23 million. Furthermore, 66% of those who reach 65 have at least one chronic condition, and 20% have 5 or more chronic conditions.
With these realities, caregiving is part of more and more of our lives. However, here’s a secondary situation facing many: how can we provide caregiving from a distance? After all, aspects like careers or economics can prevent loved ones from moving close together.
Fortunately, ingenuity and technology are making caregiving possible from across town or across the country. Let’s look at ways we can effectively care for our loved ones over distance.
Naturally, whenever our loved one reaches a point of needing caregiving, it’s vital that we make arrangements to visit our loved one in-person and access the situation. If we, ourselves, cannot make the trip, often times a close family member or friend can be of assistance in our loved one’s locale to provide in-person insights into the extent of the caregiving situation.
In long-distance caregiving, finances are often an issue. We need to make sure that our loved one is both financially protected and secure. This includes ensuring that bills are being paid and money is properly managed. Fortunately, with today’s level of online and mobile banking, it’s easier than ever to not only track and manage finances, but also pay bills online. This can be either an informal arrangement, such as being added to your loved one’s financial account or as formal as being named Power of Attorney.
Managing Benefits Online
Beyond finances, many medical benefits can be both applied for and managed online from a distance by a caregiver. Most states allow a family member to apply for benefits for a loved one, as well as manage benefits online. Most states’ assistance programs – whether medical or financial – are accessible online, often found through simple key word searches.
Optimizing Medical Communication
As a long-distance caregiver, it may seem challenging to keep up with your loved one’s medical appointments and needs. Fortunately, your loved one has the right to include you in all aspects of medical care. This can include tele-conferencing you into medical appointments, and allowing you access online to medical records. It’s very important to inform supporting medical professionals of your role in the process, so that they know to contact you upon any medical situation.
Among the most difficult parts of being a long-distance caregiver is feeling comfortable in who is there to physically assist your loved one day to day. There are both public and private agencies specifically designed to monitor your loved one’s living conditions and care. Additionally, when it comes to personal care services, there are several online services that do extensive interviewing and background check on caregivers, effectively allowing you to hire and monitor their role in your loved one’s care.
Ensuring the Right Equipment
A major component to caregiving is having the right home medical equipment. Whether it’s a scooter, a shower chair, lift chair, or many other durable medical goods and medical supplies, the Internet proves a great way for you as a caregiver to shop for the right necessities. Further, using the Internet for needed equipment allows both an opportunity to learn about different products and comparison shop. As a result, with a few clicks of a mouse, you can often get the right equipment for your loved one, delivered right to their door, at the best prices.
Going the Distance
Caregiving is never easy, and it can be even more difficult from a distance. However, thanks to technology such as the Internet, it’s more practical than ever before. While the technology is connecting all of us, it’s also an amazing tool to connect us as caregivers to our loved ones.