The United States population continues to grow older as we live longer. In the last 100 years, the 65+ population has grown tenfold. Children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and all sorts of younger relatives now find themselves in the position of caretaker for an older relative. However, life takes us in crazy directions, so we are not always close by for our relatives throughout day-to-day life. In fact, 15 percent of caregivers live an hour or more away from their senior relative.
To help fill the gaps when they cannot be near, caretakers take advantage of technology that enables them to acquire needed services, security for their senior relative while also making it easier than ever for them to stay in touch.
Acquiring Services with Technology
One in four American seniors a year suffers from a fall, the “the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.” In addition to making sure their home has been upgraded to help keep your loved one safe by installing grab bars and better lighting, it can be helpful to hire people to help with the day-to-day activities that can lead to falls.
If your loved one has a dog, you can hire dog walkers, dog sitters or doggy daycare to assist with necessary pet care. You can also find handymen, housekeepers, and gardeners to help with home maintenance. There are even grocery delivery services that will pick up what your relative needs and brings them into the kitchen for them.
Technology for Safety
When you want to be sure your loved one is safe in their home if you are not around, technology has your back. If they need assistance in a crisis, emergency response devices provide them with a direct line to highly-trained agents. You can coordinate with the emergency response services to have their Medicare or insurance information and other medical information.
In 1 out of 3 home burglaries, someone is still in the house. A home security system can protect your loved one when they are at home just as much as when they are not. Of course, the safest course of action is to downsize their living situation. Consider a senior living facility where they can be surrounded by healthcare professionals, security services, as well as their peers.
Keeping in Touch
The best thing you can do to care for your senior relative is to call them as much as you can. Loneliness has a negative impact on a person’s life. Tablets and smartphones allow you to call each other while their front facing cameras provide face-to-face access. Add them to your family plan to keep costs down. Another tip: set a timer on your phone for daily reminders to call and check in. They will appreciate the care and consistency.
Caring for an older relative when you live far apart is difficult, but technology can make it easier. Nowadays it is easier than ever to help your loved ones acquire the services they need from dog walking to having a handyman install a motion activated kitchen faucet to make their home more accessible. You can even have their groceries delivered. At home security systems can help keep them safe from criminals as well as alert emergency services in a crisis. Finally, use technology to stay in touch with your relative. Being there for them emotionally is as important as being there for their safety.
After her Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Lydia Chan struggled to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She founded AlzheimersCaregiver.net as an online resource for fellow caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia writes articles about a range of caregiving topics.