These days, it’s not uncommon for families to be spread across the country and the world. While we now have many ways to stay connected (in large part thanks to technology), when it comes to caring for a loved one, there are still challenges to being far away from each other.
Here are ten tips for caring from a distance:
Talk with your loved one
Speaking directly with your loved one will help you understand how they are going and will maintain a connection between you. While they might downplay their needs, having a conversation is a good way to try to uncover how they are feeling both mentally and physically.
Gauge what their needs are
Beyond your chats with your loved one, it’s also advisable to contact their carer (if they have one) or local friends or family members in the area – this will give you a greater understanding of what their needs are.
Understand what their medical policies are
If you don’t have a clue about whether they have medical insurance or are eligible for any rebates, make sure you ask. This information is important to know as it will give you a greater understanding of what services are available to them.
Gather their documents
If you don’t have copies of their insurance policies or medical documents, discuss this with your loved one (and their carer if appropriate) – you may need to provide written permission to get access to this information.
Reach out for help
The responsibility of caring for a loved one who needs your assistance can weigh heavily on your shoulders. If you have siblings, partners and other family members or close friends who can also provide support, this can lessen the load. If this isn’t possible, consider hiring a carer or contacting a support service to see what help is available.
Create a contacts list
Compile a list of people and services you can call on, whether it be in the case of an emergency or just to touch base about how your loved one is doing. This will ensure you are organised and don’t need to worry about having to search for details should an emergency arise.
Check in regularly with your loved one and their carers
Going on the previous point, it’s important to check in regularly both with your loved one and their carers. This will help you understand how everyone is doing and whether additional support is needed. You can also help stay connected to your loved one by sending them letters or postcards, or a delivery of flowers to brighten their day.
Set up group chats or meetings
An easy way to stay in touch with everyone is to set up a What’s App or Facebook chat, or consider holding meetings through FaceTime or Skype. This can be an efficient way of staying updated with what is happening. It can also help people feel supported and connected, which is especially important when looking after someone is a team effort.
Look for local resources
Have a Google to see what local resources are available. Perhaps there is a Community Visitor Scheme (CVS) where a volunteer spends time with an elderly person on a regular basis, or a local bus pickup service to take them to a senior citizens’ centre. The local council of the area your loved one lives in is a good starting point to finding out what is available.
Try to visit as often as possible
While there are helpful measures for enabling you to care from a distance, don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face care. Visit as often as you can. This will enable you to check in on your loved one and ensure that they are receiving quality care. It can also boost their spirits and give them something to look forward to for when you next return.