June 3, 2024

Long-Distance Love: Watching Over Your Parents from Afar

By Milestones Area Agency on Aging

Living far away from your aging parents can be a source of guilt, fear and constant worry.  But, by utilizing modern technology and proactive planning, there are some steps you can take to monitor their care and well-being:

Utilize Technology for Regular Check-Ins

Nothing beats a good old-fashioned phone call. Schedule a regular call with your parents at least once per week. But for the more tech-savvy senior, video calls through platforms like Zoom or Apple FaceTime can be ideal. If your parent needs assistance, some senior centers and libraries offer technology workshops designed for seniors. Also, Apple offers online resources at support.apple.com/en-us/105088 and Zoom provides online webinars at learn-zoom.us/show-me.

Employ Remote Monitoring Devices

There are numerous devices designed to monitor seniors’ health and safety remotely. Some companies offer wearable technology that can track vital signs and send alerts in the event of falls or other medical emergencies, such as Lifealert.com) and Mobilehelp.com. For specific conditions like diabetes or heart disease, there may be options through your parent’s healthcare provider. Many of them have partnerships with suppliers and offer these remote health monitoring devices directly through their practice. You can also contact local Medical Equipment Suppliers.

Coordinate with Local Resources

Establishing a network of local resources is crucial. This might include hiring a home care aide or engaging with local senior services. You can connect with neighbors, friends, or local church volunteers who can check in on your parents and report back to you. It can be as simple as driving by to see if mail or newspapers are piling up or a quick knock on the door to see that they are ok. Additional resources can be found by contacting Milestones at 855-410-6222.

Medication Management

Consider a smart pill dispenser that alerts your family member when it’s time to take their medication. Some options include Okpria.com and Herohealth.com. These dispensers verify the patient’s identity through facial recognition or a PIN before doling out the prescription. An app shows you when they took their medication and if they missed a dose.

Foster Social Connections

Encourage your parents to engage in social activities. Consider setting up regular visits to local senior centers or congregate meal sites such as Milestones Community Café. Perhaps an exercise class or support group. By having a regular schedule, you will know if they miss an appointment or engagement.

All-In-One Tech Solutions

Some companies offer comprehensive solutions that encompass all these solutions including video calling (with closed captions), digital picture frame for monitoring, health monitoring devices, fall detection, security systems, and even Medicare-covered virtual mental health therapy. Some of these companies include Livindi.com, Envoyathome.com, and Restassured.com.

While long-distance caregiving presents unique challenges, it also offers an opportunity to combine technology, local resources, and proactive planning to ensure your parents receive the care and support they need. Please note that MilestonesAAA has no affiliation with, nor does it endorse, any of the companies listed in this article. This is for informational purposes only.

Principle #1: The earlier you begin your planning, the better.

The earlier you begin planning, the readier you’re likely to be when the time comes.

Principle #1A:  Planning before the Look-Back Date generally allows you to save more money. Planning prior to your Look-Back Date allows you to set aside and preserve assets without triggering a Disqualification Period, also called a Medicaid Penalty.  Missing the deadline of your Look-Back Date means you’ll have to deal with potential Penalty Periods which will limit how much you can successfully set aside and keep for yourself.

Principle #1B: Planning before you’re incapacitated allows you to keep control of your life and your finances.  Once you hit incapacity – and it can strike at any time – you either can’t or aren’t allowed to make your own decisions or transact your own business.  At that point, without effective advance planning, you’re likely to lose control of your finances, and even your life, to the Probate Court. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and, most annoyingly, might be contrary to the values and decisions you would otherwise have made for yourself.  Worst of all, it may deprive you of some of the options you’d otherwise have to plan most effectively. When it comes to advance planning, keep in mind: it always seems too much until it’s too little, and it always seems too early until it’s too late. Take it from thousands of people who’ve learned the hard way:  it’s better to avoid the too little, too late trap.

Principle #2: Just because you have a plan, doesn’t mean you’re ready. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that what they need is a “plan.” They tend to think of it as just a single transaction, as a one-and-done.  They purchase a plan, put it on the shelf, assume they’re done, and forget about it. But they’re not done.  They need more than just a “plan.”  They need “planning.” Planning is an ongoing project, not a just a one-time transaction.  It’s an ongoing series of transactions and decisions.  President Eisenhower put it best when he said, “Plans are Worthless, but Planning is Everything.” New developments come up.  Old things change over time.  Planning is an ongoing project to keep your plan effective and up-to-date.

Principle #3:  It’s never too late to plan. Too often, we see people who mistakenly conclude that if they didn’t do their planning 5 years ago, they’re stuck. There’s nothing they can do now, they think. But that’s not so.  It’s not all-or-nothing. Even if you missed the Look-Back Date, it doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck.  You’ve still got options, albeit somewhat fewer options than you had before the Look-Back Date.  Even though you may not be able to save as much money as if you’d successfully beat the Look-Back Date, we can still save you money.  You’ve still got planning you need to do.  You’ve still got planning you should do.  Make sure you do it.

Milestones Iowa Area Agency on Aging promotes a variety of Wellness Programs dedicated to building healthy lifestyles for older adults through education, counseling, and a variety of fitness and wellness classes to help keep you healthy and independent. Want to Learn More?  Call Milestones at (855)-410-6222 or visit milestonesaaa.org.

Filed Under: Community, Health & Wellness, Technology

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