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Caring from a Distance

Adventures in Eldercare February 2012

Many people reading this article today remember a time when multiple generations of families lived very closely together. In fact multiple generations lived on the same farm or often in the same house. It was unusual for any family members to be more than a concession or two away, ready to help and certainly there in a flash if there was a crisis of some type. A wonderful memory of a simpler time. Unfortunately the norm today is quite the opposite, older seniors often live alone, their families possibly hundreds of miles away. This distance makes care-giving for an older family member challenging and often frustrating.

Here are a few tips on managing an elder relative’s care from a distance.

  1. Keep in regular contact. If possible use video chats so that you can have a visual assessment of the elder senior. Don’t underestimate a senior’s ability to handle a simple audio-visual technology like Skype or Google Talk. They might need some prodding but they will love the visual connection with their children and grandchildren once they get going.

  2. Find allies close by. Other relatives, neighbors or friends. Ask them for help when you need it and rely on them to check in on the elder senior on a regular basis.

  3. Keep a record of prescriptions, doctor’s names and numbers, financial information and any other vital information. Create a folder specific to this purpose, update the information regularly and keep it readily available.

  4. Seek out the help of an Eldercare Service for assistance with personal care or companionship. This type of service will not only assist you in your caregiving needs but the peace of mind of having a certified professional regularly visit your elder relative is priceless.

  5. Pay attention to subtle hints from relatives and friends, investigate and confirm any concerns. Correcting dietary, health or hygiene issues early will contribute greatly to your elder relative’s quality of life.

  1. If possible, try to set up a regular visiting schedule, if you can visit once a week, once a month, or only once a year, do it and set a specific day and time. The elder senior will look forward to the visit and be prepared for it, this reduces stress all around. While enjoying your regular visit it is vital to survey the home and your elder relative. Look for any decline in personal hygiene or the cleanliness of the home. Take a good look in the fridge, are there expired product or a lack of good quality foods. Look for fall hazards, they are most common in the bathroom and kitchen areas. On our web-site,, in the resources section, there is a full Care-giver Checklist that you can print out and utilize for this purpose.

Dr. Bruce Veltri operates Victoria Eldercare, a non-medical home care agency matching exceptional care-givers with elderly seniors, to help them maintain independence and remain safely in their own home. Victoria Eldercare can be contacted by phone, 519-429-2644 or the web-site,

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