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Caring for a loved one in another state or even an hour away is a difficult endeavor. There are 34 million Americans today providing care for a loved one, with 15% of these caregivers living one or more hours away. You may wonder how you can keep on top of your loved one’s care without living close to them. Distance makes it harder to know if they are happy and healthy and exactly how you can help. Here are a few tips to help lessen the distance between you and your loved ones and make you feel more involved.

Call

From party phone lines to mobile phones, keeping in touch through the phone is just getting easier. Call your loved ones as frequently as possible to get updates on their welfare. Many times they are expecting a phone call at a certain time of day so they know to put on their best face. Try calling at different times of the day to get a different insight on their well-being. If you switch up what time you call, you can catch them off guard and get a more authentic measure of their health.

Technology

We live in the age of technology. If you can teach your loved ones how to use Skype or Facetime, it will make long distance communication much easier. You can see how they are doing instead of just taking their word for it. In order to make technology less intimidating, write down specific instructions for them ensuring they know how to use it. If your loved ones suffer from dementia, it may be difficult to teach them advanced technology so this option might not be viable. Technology is a great mode of communication; don’t be afraid to use it!

Surprise Visit

Everyone loves a good surprise. Nothing will make your loved ones feel more important or valued than a surprise visit from you. This also allows you to check in on their living situation and making sure there aren’t any signs of malnutrition, physical danger, or mistreatment (if they have a home caregiver). Since visits are far and few between, make sure it counts. The AARP suggests a few things to look out for with your loved ones. Ask yourself, is my loved one…

  • Socializing with friends and other relatives?
  • Attending religious services or other regular events?
  • Keeping up with chores or housekeeping?
  • Maintaining their personal appearance and hygiene?
  • Eating well with a variety of foods in the house?
  • Opening and responding to correspondence from insurers, banks, or others?
  • Paying bills and balancing the checkbook?
  • Scheduling and getting to doctor appointments or other important visits?
  • Getting out to the store or recreational activities?
  • Maintaining the home?
  • Taking medication as directed?

Friends

Friends can be a huge help in long distance caregiving. On days where you just need a little reassurance, call up a next door neighbor or close friend and have them check in on your loved one. If possible, ask them to check in on a regular basis for your peace of mind and to ensure they are being taken care of.

With over 65% of seniors moving from one state to another, long distance caregiving is more common than ever. Long distance caregiving may seem daunting at first, but through proper preparation and communication, it can be done.