About 1 in 8 family caregivers live more than an hour’s drive from the recipient of the care. Whether you are in a different city, a different state, across the country, or across the globe, as caregiver you want to be there without always being there.
According to AARP, these are five steps to staying informed and effective as a long-distance caregiver.
- Establish Access
Caregiving often involves having the legal authority to make financial and healthcare related decisions. Having good information channels to accessing this information is crucial to a long distance caregiver. Try to arrange as much as possible during an in-person visit, when you can work with your loved one to locate, organize and fill out necessary paperwork such as a will, power of attorney and medical care plan.
- Create a Team
In the digital age, you can handle many important tasks
remotely, such as paying bills and ordering prescriptions; however, you will need
others to be your eyes, ears and sometimes hands on the ground. It is natural
for long distance caregivers to feel guilty about delegating certain jobs to
others, but do not try and do it all. Delegating regular check-ins and more
hands-on care to nearby family, friends or professionals can be in the best
interest of your loved one, especially in cased of serious or complicated
- Find a Local Coordinator
A local care manager can supply local knowledge and help
with caregiving logistics. One option is to hire a reputable caregiving
professional, also known as geriatric care manager, aging life care manager or
eldercare navigator or coordinator. These professionals are often licensed
nurses or social workers and can be valuable mediators or sounding boards when
family members disagree on care decisions. A care manager can help make tough
choices easier on the caregiver and care recipient – such as knowing when it is
no longer safe for a loved one to live at home – by presenting an array of options
from a knowledgeable, outside perspective.
- Stay in the Loop
Establish ways to communicate regularly with your local team
and loved one, whether through organization apps, group emails or social
tools like FaceTime and Skype.
- Make the Most of Visits
Nothing replaces an in-person visit. When you can manage
one, come with a list of things you need to know or discuss.
How can JFCS help you to navigate these challenges?
If your loved one resides in Princeton, NJ or the surrounding Mercer County area, consider a membership in the award-winning Secure@Home program offerings through JFCS. Our Secure@Home team of highly skilled Senior Care Consultants provides a comprehensive umbrella of care management services to help older adults age comfortably, independently and safely in their own homes.
Membership includes a complete home assessment, care plan,
24-hour emergency telephone availability, “Chore Corps” volunteers and regular
check-ins, preferred provider list and wellness lectures.
If you are concerned about your loved one, please call JFCS
at 609-987-8100 and ask to speak to a Secure@Home representative.
Meals on Wheels is known across the
country for delivering hot meals directly into the hands of older adults. The
program is designed for those who face challenges in accessing nutritious, hot
meals due to limited mobility and/or limited income.
Meals on Wheels is an
incredible resource to aging adults who need the accessibility and nutritional
resource; however, older Jewish adults could not turn to Meals on Wheels if
they wished to maintain a Kosher diet. Kosher Meals on Wheels (KMOW) fills that
gap and allows Jewish seniors to maintain their traditions, bringing a sense of
comfort as they age.
JFCS delivers Kosher Meals
on Wheels to Jewish seniors in West Windsor, East Windsor, Hightstown, Hamilton,
Princeton and Plainsboro. Deliveries are made twice a week and include 5 total
meals, one for each day of the week. The hot, Kosher meals are prepared by our
partner Greenwood House then
distributed by JFCS volunteers to our local communities. Greenwood House staff
and volunteers deliver KMOW to those in the Trenton, Lawrenceville, and Ewing
communities. Meals are $25 per week and some scholarships are available.
Call us at 609-987-8100 to learn
more about how to receive KMOW deliveries.
Interested in delivering more than
a meal to seniors?
We are always looking for motivated
volunteers to serve as KMOW drivers for our local seniors. The older adults who
receive meal deliveries look forward to the friendly face and short
conversation – many recipients face isolation as well as nutrition challenges
as they age. Our volunteers are valuable eyes and ears on the ground for our
staff, regularly reporting back if there are visible concerns of declining health
or living conditions. Our staff has been able to intervene quickly and provide
additional support to the senior in cases where a volunteer has provided
If you are interested in becoming a
KMOW delivery driver, contact our Volunteer Coordinator Eden Aaronson at EdenA@jfcsonline.org.
For non-Jewish seniors who do not
need Kosher meals, connect with Meals on Wheels to find
delivery options in your community.
The holidays are a wonderful time for
families to gather and share in memories and traditions. However, meals around
the table can also spur on questions about the health of our aging family
“Did Dad almost trip coming up his own
“Did Nanna look this frail last year?”
“Does Uncle Stu seem more forgetful?”
Family gatherings can shine a light on
deteriorating health in our loved ones and be an opportunity to discuss senior
care options from in-home care to assisted living.
are signs your loved one needs help?
Some of the most common signs of concern
- Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
- Cluttered, dirty and/or disorganized house
- Disheveled clothing / poor personal hygiene
- Expired/spoiled groceries
- Confusion and uncertainty when performing
- Loss of interest in activities
- Trouble getting up from seated position
- Unexplained bruises
to start the conversation?
As with many difficult topics, beginning
the discussion is often the hardest part. Open-ended questions are the best way
to encourage them to talk. Sit back and really listen to their answers.
These conversation starters may help:
- How is it living at home alone? Do you still
feel safe? (OR give specific examples i.e. Are you concerned about the stairs?
Do you have trouble getting into the bath?)
- Do you feel lonely sometimes? Would you like to
spend more time with people your own age?
- How do you feel about driving? Would you be
interested in other options for transportation, so you don’t have to worry
about getting where you need to go, car maintenance costs, traffic, parking,
- Is it ever hard to manage your finances and keep
up with paying your bills?
- Ever wonder about getting a helping hand with
housekeeping and laundry?
- Would you feel less stress if you didn’t have to
worry about the house?
Speaking to your aging loved ones about care options
can be difficult, starting the conversation is the first step. Multiple
conversations may be needed to understand your loved one’s needs and wishes AND
balance those with the best options for a safe, comfortable and fulfilling
lifestyle. Remember these tips to have a helpful conversation each time:
- Talk in person. This isn’t a
conversation to have by telephone if you can avoid it. Instead, pick a day when
you and your parent are well-rested and relaxed. Block out a time and a
location where you can talk without interruption.
- Empathy, not sympathy. No older
adult wants their child to feel sorry for them. But empathy is another matter.
Your kind, calm voice and demeanor will show you care – and that you’re trying
to understand the fears and frustrations they may feel. The idea of accepting
in-home care or moving to a senior living community is tough. You begin to help
as soon as you really begin to listen.
- Don’t rush. Once you’re armed with
knowledge, you may feel ready to make a decision. But your parent may need more
time. Allow them the time they need to find the words to express how they’re
feeling. Coming to an unpressured mutual agreement now will continue to pay
dividends as you move forward together.
- Plan to talk again. And again. As
much as you might want to wrap things up in one conversation, the reality is this
will likely be a series of talks. Unless your aging family member is in eminent
danger, that’s okay. It’s a process, not a once-and-done discussion.
Loved One May Need Help sourced by A Place For Mom. (link https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice)