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Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving

middle aged woman on phone

Caring for an elderly loved one this 2020 year has not been without its challenges. In response to the pandemic, many senior living facilities have closed to visitation in an attempt to socially distance the high-risk population from exposure to the extremely contagious coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result, many family members, loved ones, and friends have had to find new ways to provide their elders with the care they need and deserve. The solution: long-distance caregiving.

This alternative to traditional caregiving has become, in many cases, the only way for caregivers to actively communicate with and provide for their quarantined loved ones. Long-distance caregiving presents its own unique challenges, but there are ways to successfully navigate this new caregiving role. In recognition of World Alzheimer’s Month, and in acknowledgement of the challenges faced by these caregivers, DispatchHealth has gathered tips for long-distance caregiving—paying particularly close attention to long-distance caregiving for those with dementia and other cognitive challenges.

Ask Yourself: What Can I Manage From a Distance?

You aren’t Superman or Wonder Woman, and acknowledging your limitations is step one in understanding how you can best care for your dependent from a distance. Thanks to this century’s ever-improving technologies and virtual communication platforms, there are a number of tasks that you can accomplish as a caregiver from afar—supporting your loved one and ensuring continuity of care in your dependent’s network. Here’s what you can do:

Organize Paperwork & Healthcare Records

Organizing paperwork—like personal, health, financial, and legal records—is an important part of caregiving. Why? Some of the biggest tasks a caregiver has will depend on keeping important patient information in order and up to date. In a long-distance caregiving scenario, ensuring continuity of care from afar will definitely require organizing new information from network to network. Maintaining current information about your dependent’s health and medical records, as well as finances, home ownership, and other legal issues, will help you stay on top of what’s going on and allow you to respond quickly if a crisis arises.

Stay in the Loop

Doing research to better understand your dependent’s medical condition in addition to communicating with their network of healthcare providers and community leaders will help you stay in the loop as a long-distance caregiver. This is especially important in cases where the dependent suffers from progressive cognitive limitations, like dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

Make the Most of Your Virtual Visits 

Staying in contact with your patient or dependent is one of the best and most important things that you can do as a long-distance caregiver. Isolation and feelings of loneliness pose many psychological risk factors for seniors, heightening their risk of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Stress-induced illness
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Substance abuse

To combat these feelings from a distance, caregivers should make the most of virtual visits—scheduling family meetings and weekly check-ins to maintain an open line of communication. Help set up a virtual platform for these conversations to take place, and stick to a regularly scheduled meeting. 

Gather a List of Local Community Resources

Searching for nearby resources in your dependent’s community will help you provide for their physical needs, something you won’t be able to offer them from a distance. Research urgent care alternatives—like DispatchHealth’s on-demand, at-home care for acute complications—as well as community volunteers or living communities that can regularly monitor safety and stock home essentials. Having a list of contacts for emergency situations will also help you and your dependent have access to readied resources. 

Get Medical Care Delivered for Urgent Health Issues

As a long-distance caregiver, ensuring your loved one has access to the on-demand healthcare  they need for acute conditions and exacerbations is something you can’t overlook. While traditional urgent care centers provide this service, this option is not ideal for caregivers who can’t provide the immediate transportation their dependent needs. That’s where DispatchHealth’s on-demand services can help. We are a valuable resource for anyone with underlying health concerns, providing an urgent healthcare alternative that comes to your loved one’s place of need. Doing away with transportation, waiting rooms, and impersonal medical care, DispatchHealth streamlines acute healthcare services to meet your needs without a disruptive medical experience. With access to nearly all of the tools and technologies found in an ER, our medical teams will provide you a streamlined service that is effective. What’s more, we always prioritize continuity of care with our patients—sending a follow-up report to their healthcare network, primary care physicians, and community. 

To request care or learn more about our service, simply contact us via phone, mobile app, or through our website

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/caregiving/art-20047057
  2. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/8-tips-long-distance-caregiving
  3. https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/tips-long-distance-caregiver 

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