Are You a Long Distance Caregiver?

Get to Know Your Loved One’s Neighbors

When you live hundreds of miles away from an elderly loved one, you are in a constant state of worry. Although you may have taken care of things like power of attorney, living will, and other legal aspects of caregiving, you may worry if they’re eating right, if they’re remembering to pay their bills, or locking their doors at night. And you feel anxious over the fact that your loved one might fall and no one is around to help them receive medical treatment. But it’s possible to keep an eye on your loved one, even if you live in another city or state. You can do this by enlisting your loved one’s neighbors to help you with the caregiving.

First of all, you need to get to know your loved one’s neighbors. When you visit your loved one, make sure you knock on the neighbors’ doors to introduce yourself. Ask them if they would be willing to visit your loved ones once or twice a week to check on them, take them grocery shopping or take them to a doctor’s appointment. When the neighbors are inside your loved one’s home, request that they check the refrigerator to make sure there’s enough food. If there’s food in the fridge, ask them to tell you if it’s old or expired.

Be sure to provide the neighbors with your contact information, including your home phone number, your work number, your cell phone number, and your email address so they can contact you during an emergency. Don’t forget to connect with your loved one’s friends and members of your loved one’s place of worship. Ask them to stop by to see how he or she is doing. Even the neighborhood postal worker can serve as a valuable connection to your loved one.

When Your Loved One Has No Neighbors Nearby

Some elderly people live in rural areas where the nearest neighbor may be a couple of miles away. The neighbors just can’t pop over on the spur of the moment to make sure your loved one is doing well. In that case, you may wish to consider devices that let you monitor your loved one from afar. For example, wearable devices can monitor your loved one’s blood glucose level, blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. Sensors placed inside the home can let you see if the fridge has been left open or if the stove has been on for too long. The beauty of these devices is that you have access to this data even if you live thousands of miles away.

USA Today reports that using Skype or Facetime is another way to check on your loved one. Skype and Facetime use video chat to help people communicate with each other. It enables you to talk to and see your loved one in real-time, enabling you to monitor the state of your loved one’s physical health. You can see if they’re losing weight, if they look tired or if the house is in disarray. It’s simple to set your loved one up with an account, and you can easily teach them how to make and accept calls.

Need extra peace of mind? Consider helping your loved one find a roommate who can offer companionship and assistance if there are problems or emergencies. According to, some elderly people may “long for that full social life they've always had, or maybe they're concerned about some health issues.” Having a roommate provides them with the need for socializing as well as a feeling of safety. But where can you find potential roommates for your loved one? Maybe your loved one’s trusted friend or a member of the loved one’s place of worship is the ideal roommate. This provides you with more peace of mind, knowing that a trustworthy person is living with your loved one and will contact you if problems arise.

It’s a nerve-wracking experience when you live miles away from an elderly loved one. But when you enlist a group of trusted neighbors and friends, they can help you keep your loved one happy, healthy, and safe. If there are no neighbors nearby, you can still monitor your loved one’s health. By investigating the different kinds of technology used to monitor elderly ones living alone, you can select the devices that will help you take care of your loved ones--even if you live thousands of miles away.

Thank you Claire Wentz for contributing this article. strives to help caregivers be the best they can be. Stay tuned to our caregiver blog for all the latest articles.

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