Selecting the right method to care for your aging parents while you're away is different for every person. Take the time to consider your family dynamics, personal life, finances, and schedule to choose the best option for you. Discussing the best approach to care in your absence is also something that should be discussed with your parent(s). Although it may feel daunting at first to take on so much responsibility, a little organization and forethought can go a long way. Review some of these helpful tips on caring for an elderly relative or parent to get you started.
Find the Right Caregiver
Every family's situation is different and some parents may not benefit from having the assistance of an in-home caregiver while you're away. In this case, be sure to keep in constant contact with your parent(s) to ensure everything is going smoothly. If certain prescriptions, bills or medical care needs to be discussed, it's best to address the issues immediately. Caring for a loved one in need of assistance while being away on a business trip or other event doesn't have to be a headache. A little preparation and patience is often all that is needed to provide top-quality care for an older adult.
If you plan to hire a professional caregiver to provide assistance, be sure to take the time to research the best potential candidate for the job. The ideal caregiver for you should be someone with extensive experience and plenty of references to contact. Look for accolades or certifications that stand out as well. If you decide to hire an agency, check if they provide caregiver matching. The best caregiver for your parent or relative is someone both you and your loved one not only trust but enjoy being around.
Communicate Open and Often
The best way to ensure your parent(s) receive outstanding care when you're away is to communicate with them often about how things are going and what would make their life easier. Before making any major decisions, be sure to run it by your loved one for input first. By having a discussion with your parent(s) or relative(s) about once a day, you will be able to gain deeper insights into what aspects of their life can be improved upon. If you decide to hire a caregiver, ask your loved one about the attributes he or she would like to see in the ideal candidate. Mention suggestions for better care and listen carefully to how your aging loved one feels about each option.
With caregiving, there is no single "correct" approach. It's often best to tailor fit your caregiving to accommodate your aging loved one's unique lifestyle, values and health history. While some aging parents may like the idea of visiting a senior living community others may wish to maintain their autonomy. As always, don't commit to any major decisions until consulting with the person who needs the care.
Keep a Comprehensive Care Notebook
Although your hired caregiver will document daily medicine administration, vital signs and general health information, it's important to keep a separate care notebook for yourself. What medications is your parent or relative currently taking? When is their next doctor's checkup? What concerns does your loved one have that he or she isn't telling your paid caregiver? Having two separate records also helps for communication over the phone when discussing appointments, prescriptions, treatment plans and dietary habits. Encourage your aging parent(s) to provide input and explore new ideas pertaining to their caregiving as well. Record and keep all your information in one place like a notebook or flash drive for quick access.
For appointments and medication dosage, consider using a program like Excel or the Mavencare mobile app for more consistent record keeping. Find a simple, intuitive method for organization that works best for you and stick with it.
Ask for Help
No one can do everything by themselves and there's nothing wrong with asking for help. Luckily there is a wellspring of free information and resources available online to assist anyone in all aspects of caring for a loved one. Ask a close friend or relative for advice on what system worked best for them. You may also wish to schedule a meeting with a social worker or someone well versed in Medicare and Medicaid. If things begin to feel too complicated to manage, it's important to know there are always plenty of experienced experts out there who are happy to lend a hand.
Collect and Save Pertinent Legal Documents
Locating, organizing and safely storing all your aging loved one's legal documents is a very important role of all caregivers. Ask your parent(s) for assistance on where certain documents are located pertaining to social security, health insurance, medical bills or other information that may be needed in the future. Obtaining a Durable Power of Attorney for both asset management and health care is also extremely important. Also, be sure you have all the basic information acquired such as social security, financial statements, email, address and phone numbers. Having all of this in one place will make caregiving a much less daunting responsibility.
Treat Yourself Well
Taking on the role of a caregiver can be a very stressful task, even for those who are caring from a distance. Ensuring you're healthy and happy will translate to much more effective caregiving. The most important thing is to simplify tasks whenever possible and take time for yourself when needed. Knowing when to have a break, step back and relax is vital to successfully caring for a senior. If you're not caring for yourself physically and emotionally it will be very challenging to care for someone else.
By taking these 6 tips into consideration, you can rest easy when away from your parent(s) or older relatives knowing everything is under control. Caregiving for a loved one may present some challenges, but with the right knowledge, motivation and support, you'll do a great job whether you're across the room or across the country.
Require Home Care For Your Aging Parent(s)?
If your aging parent(s) requires home care in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Calgary, Edmonton, or Ottawa, book a free senior care assessment with Mavencare. We offer free home care assessment and the first 3 hours are on us if you book 10 or more hours.