According to the AARP, about 10 percent of all family caregivers live at least 60 minutes away from their aging relatives. Because of this, long-distance caregiving can get challenging. However, it is not an insurmountable obstacle, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to technology and the wide variety of services available today, you can have all hands on deck, even if those hands are hundreds of miles away.
Services That Make a Difference
If your senior loved one lives alone, there are ways that you can provide for their well-being. One of these is to sign them up for food delivery. Costco, one of the nation’s largest membership warehouses, offers free delivery on grocery items (on orders of $35 or more). You can order food online and have it delivered as long as the delivery address is within one of its many metropolitan delivery areas.
Along with food, you can provide on-site assistance with things like lawn care, cleaning, and activities of daily living. To reduce the time they spend working on their lawn and garden, consider having a sprinkler system installed the next time you’re in town (typically costs between $3,000 and $4,000). Similarly, you can contract with a local mowing company and aeration service (cost averages between $81 and $156 in Atlanta) to keep their yard healthy and under control.
Your senior may also benefit from having a cleaning service visit once or twice each month – or more often for those who have mobility impairments. Maid Right explains that older individuals with respiratory issues may experience better health by using a service that utilizes non-toxic cleaners. In addition to housekeeping, look for a local in-home caregiver that can come in once or twice each week to ensure that your parent or grandparent is eating well and managing their hygiene. If you have yet to hire someone, and especially if you are hiring independently versus through a reputable agency, make sure to have multiple interviews and narrow your list down to no more than two candidates. To make sure the caregiver is a good fit, offer a week or two as a trial period.
Tech to the Rescue
Hiring a lawn service, housekeeper, or caregiver can get pricey. If these services don’t fit within your budget, you may need to consider other alternatives. For lawn care, a one-time investment of a robot mower may get you through for several weeks until you are available to pull and trim weeds.
There are also many options for remote medical care and monitoring. The first and perhaps most important of these is a personal emergency response system. If your senior loved one has a chronic health condition, including diabetes or COPD, these push-button emergency calling systems can be literal life savers. Smart and wearable technology can help you keep a close eye on your senior’s health. Wareable explains that smart blood pressure monitors, for example, record information in an app. With the right setup and connection, you can receive this data directly to your own smartphone.
Another crucial piece of technology that can help you manage your loved one’s care is a smart home hub with video calling. Many devices double as both a photo frame and video calling device. Oscar Senior explains that Amazon’s Echo Show is easy for seniors to use, and it is voice-activated, so all they have to do is ask Alexa to call you when they want to talk.
Caring for someone when they are many miles away is possible. Technology and the widespread availability of services, such as food delivery and housekeeping, mean that you can get the job done without uprooting your family. Take the time to research options available in your area and compare them to the needs of your loved one. You may find that the right combination of people and technology can help the senior in your life live safely and independently in an uncertain time, and you won’t have to worry about them when you can’t be there.
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