How to care for aging family members from afar after emigration?  

May 17, 2024

Long-distance caregiving for aging family members presents unique challenges for carers who are geographically separated from their loved ones. It can be emotionally and logistically demanding, requiring careful coordination and planning. In this blog post, we will discuss the important aspects of long-distance caregiving for older adults and provide tips on how to navigate this complex situation.

Preparation for long-distance caregiving 

1.       Open and Honest Communication

One of the first steps in long-distance caregiving is to assess the needs of your older loved one. This may involve having open and honest conversations with them about their current health status, any medical conditions they may have, and any assistance they may require with daily activities. Discuss with your loved ones their care preferences, such as their preferences for living arrangements, medical care, and end-of-life decisions. By having these conversations early on, you can ensure that your loved ones' wishes are respected 

Establish regular communication channels with your loved one, such as phone calls, video chats, or messaging apps. Set a schedule for check-ins to stay updated on their well-being. It's important to have a clear understanding of their needs so that you can make informed decisions about the type of care they require.

2.      Create a Care Plan 

Once you have a better understanding of your loved one's needs, the next step is to create a care plan with them. This plan should outline the different aspects of care, specific tasks and preparation that need to be completed, who will be responsible for each task, and how often these tasks need to be completed. 

If you would like additional support on care planning and management, check out our service to help carers navigate elder care in Hong Kong. Our dedicated care consultants will help create a tailored care plan and liaise with service providers. Learn more at our website below:

3. Establish a Support Network

Find a trusted family member, friend or professional who can be the backup decision-maker in case of emergency. Discuss responsibilities and expectations with them beforehand. Ensure the backup person has a good understanding of your loved one’s wishes and has access to essential information such as medical records, emergency contacts, and healthcare providers. 

For daily needs, research and arrange for local caregiving support, such as hiring a foreign domestic helper, home healthcare providers, or daycare centers, to support your loved one's daily needs. Communicate with their healthcare team and share relevant medical information to ensure continuity of care.

4.       Utilize technology 

Leveraging technology can bridge the distance gap and facilitate communication and coordination. Encourage your aging family members to embrace technology such as smartphones, tablets, or computers to stay connected through video calls, messaging apps, or social media platforms. Provide any necessary training or support to help them navigate digital platforms.

Additionally, explore remote monitoring devices or systems in your loved one's home that can track vital signs or provide alerts in case of emergencies. This could include smart home technology, medical alert systems, or video surveillance cameras. Make sure to have your family member’s consent first and explain how you will safeguard their privacy. 

5.       Legal and Financial Planning:

It’s important to arrange for finances and legal documents to ensure that your loved ones' affairs are in order. Create or update legal documents such as the commonly known ‘three instruments of peace’, including enduring power of attorney, advance directives, and wills. These documents can help ensure that your loved ones' wishes are followed in the event of incapacity or death. 

When it comes to managing finances from a distance, it can be helpful to arrange for automatic bill payments and manage financial matters remotely to ensure that essential expenses are covered.

Tips for long-distance caregiving

1.   Stay Organized: Keep important documents, contacts, and medical information organized and easily accessible. Consider using digital tools or apps to manage caregiving tasks and schedules.

2.   Plan regular visits if possible: Try to schedule regular visits to check in on their well-being and assess their living situation. Use these visits as an opportunity to spend quality time together and meet with the healthcare team to address any concerns or issues that may have arisen since your last visit.

3.  Practice Self-Care: Long-distance caregiving can be stressful and emotionally demanding. Take care of your own physical and emotional well-being. Seek support from friends, family members, or support groups for carers. Read our blog post on hotlines and online support for mental health well-being: https://agewhale.com/en-us/blog/mental-health-online

By taking proactive steps and implementing effective communication and support systems, you can ensure that your loved one receives quality care and support even from afar.

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