It’s no secret that being the family caregiver to an aging loved one can be a stressful role. It’s unpaid, requires long hours, and you’re on call 24/7. That stress is amplified for long-distance caregivers, described by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging as: anyone that lives an hour or more away from a person who needs care.
According to the NIH, the care provided by long-distance caregivers can take many forms, including helping with money management, arranging for in-home care, providing respite care for a primary caregiver, planning for emergencies, and more. But one often overlooked responsibility of long-distance caregivers is making sure that your loved one is maintaining their spirits and feeling like they’re part of the family – despite the physical distance.
There are a number of ways to keep your loved one tuned into the family dynamic, and it’s important to identify which way (or ways) works best for you. Here are some ideas to get you started!
Utilize two-way video calls in family caregiving
When you can’t be together in person, two-way video calling is the next best thing. Your loved one can see and talk to every member of the family, and it’s just like they’re sitting with you on the couch. To increase the calls’ impact, make them part of your weekly routine. Designate one night a week for these conversations so your loved one has some quality family time to look forward to.
Send keepsakes in the mail
Everyone loves getting mail, and it’s even more exciting when it’s from family. Whether a birthday gift, photo album, handwritten note, or artwork made with love by the grandchildren, a little piece of home is always welcomed and appreciated.
Arrange for in-home food delivery
Cooking can be labor intensive, especially for seniors, so help them out with a weekly food delivery. This could be in the form of an oven-ready meal kit or delivery from their favorite local restaurant. Whatever it may be, food is the way to the heart, and a nice meal can go a long way in making your loved one feel special.
Gift them a home healthcare device as caregiver support
When you can’t be there in person, consider gifting your loved one a home healthcare device with an array of features that help with life’s daily activities.
Medication management, in particular, is one of a caregiver’s primary responsibilities – and one that’s especially hard to manage from afar. Devices like Pria provide caregivers real-time insight not only into their loved ones’ adherence to medication therapy, but also their overall wellbeing. Pria gives caregivers the opportunity to make two-way video calls right from the device, ask check-in questions regarding meals, social time and exercise, and set daily reminders for things like drinking water and feeding household pets.
Schedule regular in-person visits
At the end of the day, nothing beats an in-person visit with loved ones. Families who spend quality time together form strong, emotional bonds that are crucial when it comes to keeping loved ones engaged and happy.
If you’re within driving distance, consider scheduling a monthly visit. If you’re a little further away and your visit requires a flight, consider a quarterly or bi-yearly visit with the entire family (kids and all!). Whatever the cadence may be, just make sure you’re sticking to your schedule and making the most out of your time together.
Keeping your loved one engaged from afar can take many forms, so figure out what works for your family and then stick to a routine. The time you have together, whether it be in-person or virtual, is invaluable and something you’ll cherish for a lifetime.