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Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Burden Of Care: Helping Seniors From Afar

When you were a child, your care wasn’t left strictly up to your parents. You had teachers, babysitters, and perhaps even grandparents or elderly aunts and uncles that helped out and took an interest in your well-being. As these caregivers age, they too may need a helping hand. There is no better way to acknowledge their sacrifices on your behalf than to return the favor.

Unfortunately, that can be a challenge when you don’t live in the same neighborhood, or even the same state. It’s not like you can drop off groceries and prescriptions on your way home or even pop in for a quick cup of coffee. This can make you feel a bit helpless, but there are things you can do from the comfort of your own home, no matter the distance that blocks your path. This starts by understanding the challenges seniors often face.

The Burden of Care: Helping Seniors From Afar




    Everyday Struggles 

    Everyone has problems in life, but seniors face their own unique set of challenges. Here are some of the problems your senior friend might be dealing with:

    • Waning finances due to retirement and increased medical costs.
    • Health concerns such as arthritis, diabetes, dementia, and osteoporosis.
    • Loss of mobility and strength that make household chores difficult or impossible.
    • Loneliness and feeling out-of- touch. 

    As the senior grows older, they’re also going to have trouble with transportation. As livestrong.com explains, roads are built for an average person’s reflexes and vision. Both tend to decrease as you get older, meaning something as simple as a trip to the pharmacy can be dangerous or even impossible. Losing the ability to drive means issues getting food, medicine, and healthcare services -- things we take for granted in our youth.

    The Predicament of a Pack Rat 

    You might think you can’t help seniors with their cutter, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, your advice and opinions can go a long way in helping an elderly loved one see things more clearly. Something you can suggest is downsizing. This is when a senior moves to a smaller home and lets go of many of the personal belongings that he or she may have held onto for a lifetime. There are several benefits to downscaling, these include:

    • Decreased mortgage payments or earning a tidy nest egg from selling a larger home.
    • Lower monthly utility costs by having less square footage to heat or cool.
    • The opportunity to relocate to a more senior-friendly home or community.
    • Less chance of injury from performing home maintenance tasks.
    • Easier access to transportation and senior-friendly services such as grocery delivery and community-sponsored benefits. 

    Redfin has an excellent article explaining how to downsize effectively. Here are a few things you can help when mileage bars your ability to be in the same room.

    • Look at realty websites to help find good homes, condos, or retirement communities that may appeal to his or her personal taste and style. Many seniors are not comfortable navigating technology.
    • Talk to the senior about how to declutter, including what to get rid of and what to keep. You may wish to discuss the various local charities that would benefit from gently used household items, furniture, and clothing.
    • Coordinate with local friends and family to offer the senior a helping hand packing boxes and moving furniture. 

    You can even hire a senior move manager that can work with the seniors to help declutter, pack, and get into the new place. This is exponentially helpful for widows who do not live near adult children or grandchildren that can help. Be cautious, however; read online reviews and check the business’s status with the local Better Business Bureau. This will help you ensure that the elderly beneficiary of your assistance doesn’t become the victim of a moving scam (or worse).




    Safe and Sound 

    After helping acquire a new living arrangement for your aging acquaintance, there are several other ways you can continue to be of assistance. Bankrate.com explains you can talk to lawyers in their area to help draft important documents. A living will and power of attorney are both unfortunately needed at this stage of life. Another idea is to set up online bill pay to reduce time and travel. This has the added benefit of ensuring that his or her necessary expenses are paid since adults can have issues with memory at a certain age.

    There will be times when you feel both overwhelmed and unable to help because of the distance. In this case, you may wish to hire a professional caregiver. Between insurance and Medicaid, this is often an affordable service. A trained nurse can provide medical care and socialization needed by so many seniors.

    Safety is an issue for seniors, as well. You can help them feel secure by researching companies that provide home security and around-the-clock monitoring. Many providers even offer video monitoring and remote system set up so you can set a home alarm via a smartphone app no matter where you are. If mobility issues are a concern, you may schedule an in-home installation of a personal medical alert device that will allow the senior to call for help in case they become immobilized. These devices are worn around the neck or on the wrist and are connected to an advanced speakerphone system that will call 911 if activated.

    Combat Loneliness

    For many older Americans, loneliness is a real concern and one that can lead to depression and even alcohol and drug use. But, thanks to modern technology, you can be there even when you can’t. There are a number of easy-to-use devices that will allow for video calls to friends and family. Grandparents love seeing their grandchildren so having the opportunity for face time will provide a much-needed mood boost and keep them connected.

    Helping seniors that live far from you isn’t always easy. But, once you know what problems they face, you can guide them through it. Downsizing can be amazingly helpful, and you can do a lot online to help find realtors, lawyers, and professional caregivers. Remember, your kids are learning from your good example and one day you will be the senior needing assistance.


    Guest Author: Marie Villeza

    Marie Villeza is passionate about connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. She developed ElderImpact.org to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice.

    Website

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