Sunday, July 27, 2014

Caregiving at a Distance
Today caring for an aging family member or one with a chronic health condition is a growing responsibility of many in the United States. According to the Family Caregivers Alliance, one in four households is actively involved in care-giving. This is an increase of over 300 percent since 1987. Nationwide most caregivers are between the ages of 30 to 64.
Complicating this challenge is the fact that people are more mobile, careers and other life events have created a different family picture that once existed. Family members who at one time were in close proximity to one another now have many miles creating distance between them.
With distance there comes the additional challenge to figure out how to best manage care which will be done between the miles. This will include making the best of the time when you are actually in the presence of your family member/s.  Learning how to make keen observations (how much food is in the refrigerator, what is the condition of the home, what seems odd or out of place, etc.) working towards viable solutions, figuring out what resources are available and developing a local network (dependable/trustworthy friends, neighbors, church affiliates, professional organizations, etc.) for them, is key to long distance care-giving.  
The initially invest of adequate time to develop a plan, you will find, can pay off big over time. Take time to accompany your family member to medical appointments so you can gain a clear understanding of their health status, medications and projected prognosis; and make a journal to write down everything. As more is required it is best not to rely on your memory, even if you have previously prided yourself in that area.
A final piece to long distance care-giving is having a good security/ health monitoring system installed. For my mom’s added piece of mind because she has to go to her garage and walk a distance to retrieve her paper, we choose a two way pendant which allows her to be able to speak directly to the monitoring station via the pendant. Should she be in her garage, which is some distance from the base unit, and needed to summon help, someone could talk to her while she waited for help to arrive.
I recently came across another device that I am going to add to our care-giving package, Lively activity sensor. This is just another layer to enable long distance caregivers to track of their loved ones daily routines without the intrusion of cameras which often are considered offensive.

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