In today’s globalized society, it’s more common than ever before for children to move away from their parents and start their lives in a new city or state. However, if you’re age 40 and up, you may have started to wonder if that was the right move as your senior parent starts to show signs of their age.
Perhaps you’re realizing that family get-togethers during the holiday seasons aren’t frequent enough to ensure that your parents are living well. COVID-19 further showed the necessity of having alternative methods of communication with parents when you can’t easily see them in person.
Luckily, there have been many innovations in technology that make it easy to monitor your aging parents from afar. The following solutions can help to ensure that your senior parents are living a rich and safe life in their golden years.
What Kind of Remote Care is Available for My Parents?
From technological advancements to a variety of in-home caregiving options, never before have there been more ways to care for an aging parent from afar. The following are some of the solutions that an adult child can opt to use, depending on their parent’s needs, budget, and cooperation.
Networks of friends and family members that live in your parents’ community can constitute informal caregivers. By communicating that your parents need a little extra help — not round-the-clock, medically intensive care — members of this network can drop in to help cook dinners, go shopping with your parents, and drive them to doctors’ appointments.
Professional Caregivers and Home Care Services
If your parents do need more specialized or intensive care, hiring a professional is a great option. Depending on their needs, you can hire a caregiver or a certified nurse’s assistant to help administer medications, take care of their house, and monitor their wellness. You’ll be directly in control of when these caregivers drop by and how long they’ll stay. Need guidance? Talk to someone at Family Matters to learn more about home care services.
If you live in a town close to your parents or if your parents have someone to care for them that works during the day, you should consider signing them up for adult daycare. These facilities are run similarly to child’s daycare.
The caregivers here work to keep your parents active and engaged during their stay by organizing a variety of events for them to participate in, such as arts, crafts, and puzzles. They’ll also monitor your parent’s health and administer any necessary therapies or medications.
If your parent just needs a little help during the day, but there are no nearby friends or family members to jump in, most communities have volunteer care groups that can stop by to see your parents. They can provide meals and help to shop for your parents, and they may even be able to complete some light maintenance work.
Technology for Helping Your Aging Parents from Afar
The market for technology designed to help seniors age safely in place has exploded in the past decade. You can set up a network of devices and applications to track your parents’ location, wellness, safety, comfort, and health, while also providing assistance for a variety of tasks, like taking medication.
These tools can also collect a range of data to deliver to your parents’ healthcare specialists, including their movement, behavioral patterns, sleep patterns, and more.
As we explained above, technology has come a long way for improving adult children’s ability to care for their aging parents remotely. These tools include passive activity monitoring systems, medical alerts videos, smart home systems, fall detectors, GPS location trackers, and other applications.
Tools like Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom can help you to review your parents’ appearance and the appearance of their house. These details can directly show evidence when your parent may be struggling. Regular check-ins can also help to build communication between the child and the parent so that the parent feels comfortable telling the child if they need help.
Video monitoring tools and security cameras aren’t for everyone, but installing an eye in your parent’s home — with their consent — can help you to check in on them whenever you need to. Depending on the kind of camera you choose, you can often get a live feed directly to your phone. If these cameras are placed in a heavily trafficked area of your parent’s house, you can ensure that there’s been no unusual activity, like a fall.
There are smart pill dispensers that can alert your family members when it’s time to take their medication. These dispensers will verify their identity through facial recognition or a PIN and then dole out the correct amount of their prescription. It can also show you when they have taken their pills and if they missed a dose.
For parents that are uncomfortable with cameras in their home, activity sensors can remotely monitor the things happening in their homes without infringing too much on their privacy. Installing these sensors in places like around their bed, in the kitchen, and the bathroom can track whether they got out of bed at the normal time or alert someone if they may have fallen.
If you know that your parents are at risk for Alzheimer’s or dementia — or if they’re already suffering from the disease’s effects — a GPS tag may be a good investment. If your parents are prone to wandering off, a GPS tag can be lifesaving, transmitting their location to the linked smart device, even if you’re in another state.
Virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Home can help your parent to manage their life and their household. These assistants can remind your parent of their medication schedule and make various devices in their home more accessible.
Wearable devices can determine whether your parent has fallen or not. These have come a long way in the past few years, and they’re more attuned than ever before to situations in which your parents may need help. They can come in the form of a wristband or a pendant, and they often feature two-way voice communications so you or emergency service personnel can talk directly to your parent.
How Do I Know If My Parents Need Additional Care at Home?
A good first step to ensuring that your parents are well taken care of is to know the signs that indicate your parents may need extra care. You should establish some way to check in on them in a routine manner, like a daily or weekly phone or video call. While you’re on these calls, look out for the following signs that your parents may be struggling to care for themselves.
Are your parents showering and conducting other self-care routines regularly? Are they staying on top of chores and other responsibilities? If they’re struggling with any of these, it can be a sign of dementia, depression, or physical impairments.
Are your parents easily confused by normal conversations, familiar places, or keeping track of time? Sometimes, memory loss can be a normal sign of aging, but other times, these types of behaviors can be indicative of changes that will make driving and shopping dangerous and difficult.
A leaner appearance can be a sign of potential issues that need to be addressed. If your senior parent appears to have lost weight, it may be because they’re physically unable to cook, shop for food, or taste and smell food. It could also be a sign of medical issues like cancer, dementia, or depression.
As your parents continue to age, it’s a good practice to make note of their moods and their natural fluctuations in emotion. If their temperaments or outlook appear to have drastically changed, that can indicate that they need help.
Changes in Socialization
Ask our parents whether they’re staying in touch with friends, family members, and your siblings. Check in with these people to make sure that they’re regularly hearing from your parents.
How to Have a Conversation with Your Parent About Remote Care
Unless you have power of attorney, you’ll need your parents’ permission and collaboration to employ remote care for them. Broaching this topic care be tricky, but care needs to be addressed.
You’ll want to address this topic delicately. It may be a good idea to start by saying that you worry about them. Witness how they react. A reaction can be considered to be positive if they agree with you and communicate that they worry, too. In these situations, you can easily begin a conversation about all of the options.
If they brush off the topic, you’ll want to give them some time to think. It’s best not to push and try to force them into doing something right away. You can also mention some of the other benefits of remote monitoring: They won’t have to do anything, that they’ll be able to stay independent and safe at the same time, and that it will stop you from worrying unnecessarily.
If they’re concerned about privacy via cameras, you can mention other options, like sensors and community networks. Talking to your parents about aging can be a tricky subject, but it’s necessary: Their cooperation is directly related to their continued health and safety.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.