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Another guest post today from Claire Wentz from Caring from Afar! 

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Few things compare to the stress of knowing an elderly loved one’s health is in decline, and living far away only adds to the worry. How can you care for an aging parent when you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away? Not everyone has the opportunity to relocate nearer to their aging parents or have Mom and Dad move in, but that doesn’t mean they can’t provide meaningful care and support. Here are three ways you can care for your aging parent no matter where you are.

Hire Help

In-home help is an incredible asset for the long-distance caregiver. From the comfort of your home computer, you can arrange housekeeping help, errand assistance, and even yard maintenance for your elderly loved one. For seniors who need a little help managing on their own, a home health aide can make the difference between aging in place and moving to a care facility. Homebound seniors may qualify to have in-home skilled nursing care covered through their Medicare benefits. Be aware that the Medicare Open Enrollment Period runs from October 15 to December 7. Be sure to help your loved one sign up before the deadline if you think she’ll benefit from its coverage options, which may include vision and dental care, prescription drugs, and a health savings account, depending on the plan.

Stay in Touch

The best way to stay on top of your loved one’s well-being is to talk regularly. Don’t limit yourself to phone calls; video chat is a personal way to stay in touch, and it’s not hard for seniors to use. There are several free video chat services, like Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts, or you can get a simplified devicedesigned for seniors who aren’t tech-savvy.

With regular conversation, you’re more likely to notice changes in an elderly family member’s physical and mental health. Symptoms of depression, substance abuse or misuse, or cognitive declinecould become apparent through face-to-face conversation, enabling you to take action before it becomes a health crisis.

Consider Assisted Living

Sometimes, an elderly parent is simply unable to continue living on her own. While the loss of independence is a difficult moment for any senior, transitioning to a senior living facility may be the right choice to keep her safe and healthy.

A move to an assisted living facility doesn’t happen without planning. Finding the right facility for your parent takes time, and your preferred facility might have a waiting list. Consider what your loved one’s care needs are; some senior living communities are known for their excellent memory carecenters, while other are perfect for seniors who are active but just need a little help managing the day-to-day. Recreational and social opportunities vary from facility to facility, with activities ranging from crafts and games to woodworking shops and dancing. Also consider location: Your parent might want to stay local, move to a walkable community, or live closer to you. Talk to your parent about what she wants out of a senior living community, and aim to find a place she’ll feel at home.

Of course, the perfect retirement home doesn’t come without its expenses. Making the right choice the first time will spare you costly moves, while long-term care insurance, veterans’ benefits, or a reverse mortgage can help seniors afford the cost of assisted living. Consider that compared to the expense of staying at home with hired care, assisted living can deliver a much higher quality of life for a comparable price.

No one wants to see a parent lose her independence, but keeping your loved one safe is the priority when it comes to senior care. What that looks like will change as the years pass; at first, your parent may only need occasional help at home, but over time, that could evolve to required 24/7 support. Staying involved — even from a distance — means that you know exactly when it’s time to make the switch to assisted living.

What is it about you that is worth more than you realize? What do others tell you that you often can’t integrate into your own belief and possibility?

A real treat today for me and for you. As you know, caregiver support and caregiving resources are two of my passions. And this article truly speaks to me as the community of care we were able to develop around my mother allowed her to stay in her home independently much longer than she would […]

What happened when I got there was an instant knowing that I was in the right place for the right reasons with the right people. I signed in and then headed out for a quick dinner. Someone walked into the restaurant and I saw her name badge. “Would you like to join me?” I asked. She did and she was amazing. A yoga teacher from California named Frances, like my mother.

When I was a child, I had no idea what was happening to me and why I would cry at the drop of a hat one day and leap into the sunshine the next. I worried that it was a mental illness, since we had a family history of same. Sometimes I blamed myself for not doing – God knows what -to be a “normal human being.”

I know now that I am a “normal human being,” whatever that really means.  And some days, I am just highly sensitive.

But what they have really given me is a reminder to notice the beauty that is all around me. I can get very distracted by work, time commitments, and a desire to do all the things I want to do. And those distractions keep me from noticing the silky golden beauty of my granddaughter’s hair or the perfect grace of my cat’s leap onto the couch next to me.

Do you notice that January brings a desire to declutter, purge and re-organize your home, office and maybe even your car? If so, you’re not alone. While the phrase “Spring Cleaning” is more popular than “January De-Cluttering,” this is a natural time for us to take stock and think about what we own, where we store it and whether it’s still relevant to our lives and our work.

As 2017 winds down to an end, I realize again how much I love this transition from the old to the new. Everything seems fresh and possible to me. A new year, a new day, a new hour. Everything that’s old is new again.

Of all the times of the year, the holiday season can be one of the most busy and, therefore, stressful. We can take on a lot. We can have high expectations. We can encounter difficulties in relationships with others who are stressed and carrying high expectations.

One of the most joyful times of the year can often be fraught with sadness and disappointment.

Add in the fact that for some, the end of the year brings additional stresses at work as there can be more planning, more reporting, more covering for those who take time off and more.

So what can you do to prepare for the holiday season?