Connect with Tech to Help Your Aging Loved One
With today’s senior citizen population booming, more and more adults are finding themselves as caregivers for their aging loved ones. The problem is that families are more spread out these days than in the past, which can put us in a difficult position if the person we care for is miles away. Thankfully, modern technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected – you just have to get your loved ones on board.
Communication: You want to make sure you can communicate with each other easily and affordably. Start by setting up a phone plan for each of you that allows for plenty of long-distance calls. Help your loved one set up a computer or tablet, too. Helping them get just a little familiar with one of these devices will allow you to communicate by email and video chat, and this can also give them a creative outlet by engaging in brain games on their device.
Establish everyone’s role: If you have siblings or other family members helping with your loved one’s care, Kiplinger suggests having a conversation with your siblings and discussing roles based on each person’s strengths or ability to help. The important thing is to realize you shouldn’t have to do this all on your own, so reach out for help where you can. ABC News recommends visiting your loved one and making connections with some of their neighbors and other trusted members of their community who can help.
Legal and financial issues: You can simplify life by gathering together essential information, including contact information for doctors and a list of their medications. Once you have all the information you need at your fingertips, set yourself up as power of attorney so you can help with legal and financial needs. Most companies now offer automated bill-pay, so take advantage of this by automating as much as you can.
Setting up care: If your loved one needs help because they have limited mobility or dementia, set up a care system to make sure their needs can be met in their home. Home care can be whatever you need it to be – from getting a little assistance with daily tasks all the way to specialized medical assistance. Search the internet for care providers, and, if possible, check with members of their local community for recommendations. Modern technology can play a role in keeping their care on track too. Sensor technology sends you alerts if your loved departs from their usual routines.
Consider helping your loved one downsize: There may come a point when your loved one should downsize. Start by thinking about the different options and helping them figure out what type of home would be best. The Wall Street Journal suggests finding a smaller apartment or townhome with one level so stairs aren’t an issue. Another critical part of downsizing is winnowing down possessions. Sorting through years of belongings may feel like a monumental task, so start helping them with this process early, at least three months before they’re ready to make a move. Encourage your loved one to start by taking an inventory of everything they own and sorting things into categories. Sorting is a great starting point for deciding what they truly need or enjoy and what can be sold or donated. Paperwork and memorabilia can be hard to part with, so Sixty and Me recommends scanning all of these items, then getting rid of the originals (shred any legal or financial documents). Then you can create a slideshow with their favorite pictures and mementos, allowing enjoyment rather than having those memories tucked away in boxes.
The process of downsizing and adjusting to life with a little extra help isn’t easy for anyone. Use the tools you have available, especially the benefits of modern technology, and you’ll get through this together, despite a little distance.
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