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Long-Distance Caregiving

23 Nov 2017

Helping Loved Ones Achieve Independent Living

If your aging or ailing family member or friend lives far away, making sure that they are well taken care of presents a unique set of problems. But, with planning you can be very effective in helping them build the local support network that they need to stay at home and maintain their independent living.

In helping your family member or friend make their plan for independent living, you will need to do some legwork. Here’s what to do:

  • Get to know the neighbours. Identify one or two neighbours who will look in on your parent on a regular basis. Exchange phone numbers and make sure that the neighbour’s phone number is programmed on speed dial on your parent’s phone.

  • Get to know the bankers. If your family member or friend uses bank tellers and managers instead of the internet or ATM, the teller or manager will be able to tell you whether there has been unusual banking activity, like taking out large sums of money or being accompanied by a stranger when he or she opened their safety deposit box. Introduce your self to the staff and give them your phone number to call you if they think something is odd.

  • Get to know their best friends. They can become your eyes and ears, letting you know about changes and concerns that you won’t pick up on in a phone call or during a short visit. They can also help with basic daily independent living activities, which may include picking up groceries, fixing some food and looking in on your family member or friend when they are not well. If you don’t already have a relationship with them, introduce yourself and include them on a visit, when appropriate. They’ll be more inclined to open up to you if you’ve developed a relationship with them too.

  • Get to know community services. Call your local Community Care Access Centre to find out what government-funded services are available to support independent living and what your parents are eligible for. There are also many other programs and services available through York Region Seniors and Long-Term Care, Community Home Assistance to Seniors, the Alzheimer Society of York Region, the Canadian Cancer Society and other local organizations.

  • Bring home the phone book. Next time you’re visiting, bring back an extra copy of the local phone book. The Yellow Pages are helpful too and are also available online.

Adpated from: Rhodes, L. (2001). Caregiving as Your Parents Age: The Complete Guide to Helping your Parents Age Gracefully, Happily and Healthfully. New York: Penguin Group.