Globalization and digital technology give modern people opportunities unimagined by past generations. But for everything, there is a price. Our society’s newfound mobility can weaken the bonds that once kept us in close touch with family and friends. This can make caring for an older person challenging, especially when the distance separating you from your loved one is substantial. So in this post we’ll look at ways to bridge this geographical gap and ensure that a senior is receiving the care she deserves.
Access Local Resources
By “local” we mean services in the area where the older person lives. Most communities have a variety of organizations that focus on the needs of senior citizens. These may include:
- Local, state, or federal human services agencies.
- Private charitable groups like Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, or ITN America, which provides transportation solutions for seniors.
- Social activity clubs like Silver Sneakers, in which mature persons get together for exercise and recreation.
You can learn more about the resources available for your loved one by checking the Internet or calling the chamber of commerce in her area of the country. Of course, it’s important to never force the person to accept aid against her will. However, you can support or encourage her to consider these options while you handle the logistics through phone calls and emails.
Advocate for Your Loved One
Physical or mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease make the task of caring for a senior all the more challenging. However, this doesn’t mean you’re helpless. You can help ensure your loved one receives the very best care available in her area by contacting the agencies tasked with watching over her. Let the officials at these offices know that you take an active interest in your friend or family member’s well-being. Convey any concerns you may have and ask for periodic updates on your loved one’s condition.
We can hear what you’re thinking: “But I don’t want to be a pain in their neck!” That’s a valid concern. All too often, social workers and non-profit volunteers must make do with shoestring budgets and tight schedules. So how do you inspire them to prioritize your loved one’s needs? By giving them something they almost never receive: appreciation. Recognizing people for the good they do is one of the most effective, yet most overlooked, ways to get them to do what you want. Send them a thank you note or perhaps even a tin of cookies when they act on your concerns. It’s amazing how this simple step can resolve issues that seem intractable.
Help the Person to Downsize
Downsizing is a great idea for many older folks. You can plan a short-term visit during which you help the person to rid their home of excess items..
“Sounds good,” you might say. “But you don’t know how much of a pack rat this person is!” We understand. Here are ways to help a senior let go of unneeded possessions:
- Acknowledge and affirm the sentimental value an item holds for the person. To you, that leisure suit from 1974 may seem like a hideous reminder of a horrible fashion trend. To your loved one, though, it evokes memories of the day they married their true love.
- Suggest the person keep only the most important item from a set of goods: “Here’s an idea, dad. Why not hold on to the cufflinks you wore when you took mom on your first date? Then you’ll still have something to remember her by and we can finish cleaning out your closet.”
- Ask closed-ended questions like, “Do you want to keep the clock or the lamp?” instead of “which things from the bedroom do you want to hold on to?” This will give the person a sense of control over the process.
Love knows no distance and no boundaries. Reaching across the miles to help a friend or family member is one of the noblest things anyone can do. Best of luck as you care for those you hold dear.
Article by Marie Villeza with Elder Impact