It’s no secret that we’re living in a society that’s aging. As many seniors now live well into their eighties and nineties, more and more people are finding themselves in a position of having to provide care to their parents, grandparents, and other family members. In fact, 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult over the age of 50 in the last twelve months, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.
If you’re one of these caregivers, you already know that caregiving is challenging enough when the person you care for lives nearby. But what happens when your loved one lives hundreds or thousands of miles away?
Technology can make things much easier. Just a generation ago, a telephone plugged into the wall was the primary way to connect with loved ones living far away. Today, we are blessed with many more options.
How can you make today’s technology work for you? Here’s how to make four simple tech tools work for you.
Use Your Cell Phone
Not that long ago, long distance phone calls were expensive and limited to special occasions. Today, with long distance calling plans, that’s no longer the case. You can call anyone anywhere in the world without worrying about the cost. For instance, if you’re looking after your elderly mom who lives in another state, get into the habit of calling her every morning before you leave for work. You’ll know that she’s up and everything is okay before you start your day. You’ll both benefit from the routine, and never be more than 24 hours away from knowing if anything has happened that you should be concerned about.
Home Monitoring Sensors
You’ve heard of nanny cams. Now, there are granny cams, webcams that give you visual access to an elderly loved one’s home. You can see what’s happening at any time of the day or night. If that seems too invasive, there are other systems that use motion detectors to report inactivity after so many hours.
Personal Response Systems
There area variety of personal response pendants and medical alert systems available that your loved one can wear. If your parents fall or have an emergency, all they have to do is press a button. Help will come and you will be notified. Consider giving your mom or dad a subscription to one of these services as a birthday or Christmas gift.
Home Care Agencies
If you’re considering hiring a professional caregiver from an agency to help care for your parents, ask the agency how the caregiver will communicate with you. These days, many agencies offer online family chat rooms and messaging options. You should be able to get an update each time a caregiver is with your parents, so you know how they were during the visit.
The challenges of caregiving, although never easy, can be managed from a distance easier than ever before thanks to the many devices and systems now available. You’ll have to do some research to learn about your options, and you’ll probably have to take a few for a test drive before you find exactly what you need for your situation. But in the end, you’ll join the millions of caregivers who are grateful for technology solutions that make it possible to stay connected and in control of your loved one’s wellbeing-- even if you’re on the other side of the world.