Participating in any aspect of an elderly parent’s healthcare needs is very difficult for family members that live far away. While even being a just a few hours away makes contributing difficult, there are many that live so far away they must travel long distances just to visit.
This understandably makes assisting with caregiving – be it planning services or directly contributing to their care – incredibly difficult. As a result, many families become strained, as some feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring without help from others. Not only that, those living long distances usually feel a great sense of guilt due to their inability to offer help.
In fact, smaller families may even face the prospect of no family member living close enough to offer help, leading some to arrange and manage all aspects of their parents’ healthcare from afar. No matter the situation, any family member can still assist with various aspects of their loved one’s healthcare – be it from a different town, city, or state.
Assess The Situation At The First Opportunity
If there is a sudden injury, or an illness has developed to the point where home healthcare is necessary, the first step to take is assessing the situation. This can be done in person, in which case you need to check their living situation and see what level of care they require, or get another family member to relay the information if they can do it.
For those with no family members close enough to assess their situation, speak with their physician or any healthcare worker they may already be using, while neighbors and close family friends can help give an understanding of their current needs.
In doing so, it can make arranging for suitable healthcare services much easier. You can even set up the services they need when living long distances or at least aid with the planning of their care if family members are providing it.
Learn Everything You Can About Their Illness
Understanding everything you can about their illness or current state of health makes assisting from afar much easier. Knowing this information gives a better insight into their current situation and what type of healthcare they require, as well as steps to take to prevent accidents, and generally helping with things like medication management.
If possible, collaborate with a family member living nearby that can give more detailed account of their illness, such as the severity of their mental condition or how their physical health is holding up.
Speak With Family Members To Establish Responsibilities
One of the main reasons why problems arise between siblings and other family members is a lack of planning and communication. It’s easy to assume that your brother or sister that lives closer can take more responsibility, but everyone should be involved in any form with decisions regarding your parent’s care.
By speaking with each other, you can firmly establish who can take what responsibility. If you live long distance, you can still contribute, be it through setting up care services, managing insurance and other paperwork, or scheduling regular visits to offer respite care.
For example, if a sibling will be the primary caregiver, you can arrange to temporarily take over the responsibility so they can get a short break or even go on vacation.
Make Use Of Technology
Staying far away once limited how much involvement you can have when it comes to caring for elderly parents, but modern technology allows much more involvement, so be sure to take advantage.
For example, if you cannot help to take them to their doctors’ appointments or meeting with healthcare providers, you can still be included through video messaging or conference calls. The same can be done to keep in regular contact with your other family members or their primary caregiver.
Also, you can use online resources to help with your planning and managing, which is certainly useful for tracking appointment dates, when bills are due, and for scheduling your next visit.
Perhaps give them a new cell phone can help you keep in regular contact with them? You can even program all important contacts for them (e.g. doctors, neighbors, etc.) in the event of an emergency or just to help keep them connected.