Long distance caregiving is a situation that many adult children face. Finding a way to be an effective participant in a parents care when you’re miles away is not impossible. Phone calls, handling paperwork, taxes are all items that can be handled from just about anywhere. (Thanks internet!)
How else can we help our loved ones when we have busy & complicated lives far away? First, make a list of what help they need now and project what they’ll need in the future. Write down all the people that you and your loved one know. Who might be best to handle daily care? Who loves to run errands? Ask each person on the list what they feel comfortable doing and don’t ask for more than that.
The next challenge is to make your loved one understand that this long distance caring network is important for them to embrace. Utilizing a service like Lots of Helping Hands to organize who is doing what may allow them to feel secure that help is really there. Frame this network as a way to “give Uncle John something to do” or “help your neighbor Jenny feel less worried about you.” This also allows them to maintain some dignity. Make sure your loved one knows each persons boundaries. A caring network can quickly fall apart if people feel sucked in to doing more than they’re comfortable doing. Giving your loved one the option of accepting friends & family helpers or paying for care might be useful. Lastly, a combination of friends and family plus paid care might be the best option if their budget allows.
Other Long Distance Caregiving Options
Consider the possible benefits of an adult or assisted living community. In a community of 55+ year old residents your loved one may have more options for a caregiving network. Many 55+ communities have systems in place to make sure each resident is regularly accounted for. One near me has a central location for their mailboxes that is monitored by staff.
Assisted living is the most expensive option but might be a good alternative if there are few people that can help. It’s also an alternative to consider carefully if your loved ones care needs are quite great. Visit many assisted living communities, talk to your local senior ombudsman services to help find the right fit. They are the most knowledgeable about each community and what they have to offer. It’s important that the community work with your loved ones needs and personality.
There are even informal elderly care co-housing options that may work better financially for some. Being outgoing and social might be necessary to feel comfortable in this type of living situation.
Co-housing — defined as private homes clustered around shared space with a group of people committed to being a community — is an established phenomenon in Northern California. Co-housing specifically for those over the age of 55 is relatively new, but an excellent alternative to consider. Read ‘This is the future of aging’: Senior co-housing communities provide alternatives.
Whichever care plan you and your loved one choose can always change as their needs change. The most important step is to initiate making a plan.
Listen in to this weeks episode to learn about one dementia daughters journey as a long distance caregiver.
Links to Fading Memories Social Media
Sharing our journey is helpful to caregivers in many ways. Sharing helps me feel less alone and helps me care for Mom in better ways. Hearing other caregiver struggles and being able to help is also a big reason to share our journey. This episode is all about talking about the months just prior to my Dad’s death. Discussing his health issues and how they effected his memory may help others. I’m hoping that by sharing this part of my story it serves as a warning to others who may have similar struggles.
Dad struggled with many chronic health issues, most of which likely were made worse by his diabetes. By not controlling his blood sugar likely lead to his later cognitive problems. Warning all of us about this probability may have made things different. Not knowing of this risk, I question if Dad would have been more interested in taking care of his disease? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
Starting this podcast was a way to share what I’ve learned over the years, watching Dad care for Mom and caring for my Mom now myself. Podcasting turned into a journey where I’ve learned even more. I’ve created bonds with other caregivers and helped a few as well.
Struggling to connect with my Mom has allowed me to connect with people and resources I was unaware of prior to this podcast. Talking to you and sharing this connections is a journey I am thrilled to have started. I hope that listening is having a positive impact on your caregiving journey.
Blood Sugar & Blood Pressure Links to Cognitive Issues
Researching topics for the podcast I’ve read lots of articles on the need to control our blood sugars and pressure. Learning about these important issues is allowing me to care for myself better as well. Having even somewhat elevated blood pressure causes damage to small vessels that help oxygenate our brains. Depriving our brains of oxygen is bad, we know this. The good news is, research has shown that medication to reduce blood pressure works to help protect you from an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your blood pressure, keep it in check. Even better is to keep it in check as early as possible.
In addition to controlling blood pressure it’s also important to control our blood sugar. Controlling blood sugar is a challenge for me because I am a sugar lover. Regardless, I have made many dietary changes to achieve a steady blood sugar because I refuse to make it easy for my body to fail me.
It goes without saying that too much sugar (and fat) leads to inflammation in our bodies. This inflammation can then cause the same damage as high blood pressure. This is extremely simplified so I’ve linked a couple of articles I found helpful.