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Long-Distance Caregiving: How to Evaluate Your Loved One

Sherry Christiansen
By Sherry ChristiansenAugust 23, 2019

Being a long-distance caregiver can involve many duties, including managing a parent or senior loved one’s finances, in-home care services, medical appointments, and more. But perhaps the hardest job that these caregivers have is trying to evaluate their loved one and still provide them the best long-distance care while relying on family members, friends, and home care workers to understand their loved one’s growing needs.

Learn more from these four caregiving tips on how to evaluate your loved one and the care they need, from a distance.

Long-Distance Caregiving: 4 Ways to Evaluate Your Senior Loved One

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) considers a long-distance caregiver to be someone who lives an hour or more away from their parent or senior loved one.

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The distance can bring about some challenges for these caregivers, but the following four tips can help long-distance caregivers evaluate changes in loved ones:

1. Employ an in-home caregiver or healthcare professional.

Employ an in-home caregiver, geriatric care manager, home health nurse, or another professional to evaluate your loved one. A third- party person can be neutral and can give an unbiased opinion on how your loved one is functioning.

2. Have a face-to-face conversation over a video call or chat.

Even if you are unable to physically be there in person you can conduct regular face-to-face conversations and interviews, which will allow you to see for yourself, just how your loved one is doing.

3. Interview those people who see your loved one on a regular basis.

Here are some examples of questions to ask family, friends, or neighbors about your loved one:

  • Can they still bathe, dress, and cook food independently?
  • Have they been getting out of the house?
  • Have they had any other visitors?
  • Have you noticed any safety issues around the house?
  • How is their appetite?
  • How is their memory?
  • Is there anything else that I should know about?
  • What changes have you seen in Dad or Mom’s condition since we last talked?

4. Look out for any signs of neglect.

Long-distance caregivers also need to keep their ears and eyes open for any signs of abuse or neglect.

Here are some tips:

  • During regular conversations, note any sudden mood changes or suspicious comments made by a loved one (that could be a sign of emotional abuse, financial abuse, or neglect)
  • Have family, friends, and neighbors stop by unannounced to see how your loved one is doing

If you suspect any type of abuse or neglect, it’s important to report it right away.

Although long-distance caregiving can be challenging at times, having a plan in place to help stay abreast of how a loved one is doing can help caregivers with one of the most difficult and rewarding tasks that a person could take on.

What other long-distance caregiving suggestions do you have that weren’t highlighted above? We’d like to hear your tips in the comments below.

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Sherry Christiansen
Sherry Christiansen
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