When you live a geographic distance away from your parent or older loved one, it can be more difficult to check on her or his care facility than if you lived closer. However, you can still ensure that your family member is safe in a nursing home.
Try these tips to connect with and evaluate your loved one’s caregivers when you cannot simply drop by and visit.
Help with health care management
Ask your family member to give you permission to review medical records and discuss issues with his or her caregivers. Your mother or father can complete a legal document called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Keep a written record or secure electronic document that lists your parent’s conditions, medications, treatments and other vital information. You should also list your loved one’s doctors and their contact information. Schedule a periodic call with your loved one’s primary care physician to ask questions and get updates.
Build a network
Local friends and family members can serve as your eyes and ears between visits to your parent. Ask them to visit regularly, and follow up so that that they can provide information about your mother or father’s condition and possible areas of concern.
If your parent does not know many people nearby, research local resources through the Area Agency on Aging or connect with faith-based resources where appropriate. You can also hire a local social worker or care manager who specializes in geriatrics to facilitate your loved one’s care. Look for a professional with credentials from the National Association of Social Workers or the National Academy of Certified Care Managers.
If your parent does not already have a computer or a smartphone, you can purchase this technology and show her or him how to use it to create an immediate line of connection. When you can call, text and even video conference your loved one each day, you will be more likely to notice signs of your mom or dad’s unhappiness, distress or illness.