Every day in this country, a son or daughter living far from an aging parent worries and wonders. Is Mom (or Dad) doing okay still living at home? How can I be sure that she (or he) is eating properly, taking meds on time, and managing bills? How will I know when extra help is needed, or if the current help is really working out?
In our mobile society, it’s more common than ever for the generations to live apart. It may seem like a good idea when Mom and Dad are in their sixties to move to a warmer climate, far from their adult children. But as the years pass and parents age and become frail, things tend to change. Many times it takes an, in-person visit during the holidays or a medical crisis for a long-distance caregiver to get the full picture. When it isn’t possible to live close by to an aging loved one, can technology help bring peace of mind?
There are a wide range of technological devices, which can help people stay safe at home. Wireless sensors can detect falls. Medical alarms, such as Life Alert®, can summon emergency assistance. Talking clocks can remind seniors to take their meds, and a variety of smartphone apps can offer caregiving advice, and help caregivers keep track medical appointments. Video calls can keep people connected, and at an extreme, “nanny cams” allow caregivers (with permission) to literally keep an eye on their loved one, and communicate at any time.
Technology gives caregivers and seniors choices that they never had before, but there are limits to its effectiveness. How willing and able are all involved to learn how to use the technology? Factors to consider include cost, privacy concerns, how user-friendly the technology is, and everyone’s comfort level. Once a particular technology is installed, its use must be evaluated frequently. If the aging person doesn’t answer the phone or video calls, ignores high-tech medication reminders, or has frequent falls or health crises, it’s time for the long distance caregiver to review other options.
The services of a local geriatric care manager can be especially valuable in long distance caregiving situations. A care manager can conduct a comprehensive evaluation, make specific recommendations, and follow up with the aging person and the family.
My company, Senior Transitions, helps families who are dealing with caregiver stress. If you would like to discuss your family’s needs, please contact us at email@example.com or 850-894-6720 and we’ll be happy to help you.
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