Caring for a loved one who lives far away can be frustrating and challenging, which is why it’s often easier to move closer to the senior in your life. There’s a lot to think about with this process, however, including figuring out the best ways to help your loved one and planning for the move itself. Not only that, it’s important to take your own well-being into consideration in order to ensure that you’re able to be present and energized as a caregiver.
Caregiverology is full of resources that will help you find the right tools to keep your loved one safe and healthy, as well as tips to inspire and rejuvenate you throughout the process. Follow this guide as you get started on the journey to caring for your senior loved one.
Before moving closer to your loved one, get to know their needs and pinpoint exactly what type of help they require. Often, the easiest way to tell if a senior needs assistance is by learning more about their daily schedules. If they’re finding it difficult to care for themselves, are forgetful, have mobility issues, or are feeling isolated, it’s probably time to make a move. Do some research on the types of home modifications that might make life a little easier for your loved one, such as adding lighting, updating the bathroom for safety, or installing a ramp.
Whether you’ll be moving to a new city or a new state, there are lots of things to plan for before you can get started. Research the area to find out more about the cost of living, the average cost of homes or rentals, and what kind of resources are nearby for your loved one.
Give yourself plenty of time to make preparations, which will include getting together any necessary paperwork for changing your address, setting up an appointment with the movers, and cleaning/packing. It’s also important to stay organized during the entire process since this will keep stress at bay and make everything easier on you.
While doing some research on the area your loved one lives in, it’s a good idea to look for services that will be helpful to you both. Often, older adults have trouble maintaining their homes, and if the job is too big for you as well, think about how you can take that stress off your shoulders.
One important area of the home that is often overlooked is the roof, including the gutters. Cleaning and repairing any damage can help prevent major issues down the road, so it should typically be done twice a year to keep up with the seasons. The average cost for a gutter cleaning is between $106 and $167, although depending on the size of the roof and the amount of debris involved, it could be as much as $350. Search for a service that will clean gutters near you so you and your loved one will have peace of mind throughout the year.
Many seniors rely on their neighbors to help with things like yard work or carrying in groceries, so it’s a good idea to get to know the people closest to your loved one. Not only will this allow you to find out what they typically do to help out, it will also give you the chance to let them know that you’re close by and that they can give you a call in case of an emergency. If your loved one relies on their neighbors for social interaction, look for easy ways you can help them make new friends or stay connected with their favorite people.
Most seniors benefit from both social interaction and physical activity, so look for resources that will help your loved one get involved, such as a free online course, an exercise class at the YMCA, or a book club.
You can also find apps and software that will allow them to stay connected to friends and family, such as Zoom, and teach them the basics when it comes to utilizing them. This is a great time to talk to your loved one about internet security and how to recognize and avoid scams; many libraries across the country have free classes on the topic, or you can look for online resources that will help.
Even with access to social activities, many seniors suffer from loneliness or feelings of isolation as they get older, especially if they’re living with a disability or have recently lost their spouse. It’s crucial to keep this in mind and to look for mental health assistance and tools to help them cope with grief, anxiety, or depression. Keep communication open with your loved one, keeping in mind that it’s essential to get their input and feedback before making decisions that will affect them.
If they’re physically able, your loved one might benefit from taking a part-time job or volunteering with their church or a local shelter. These activities provide lots of interaction and can help keep seniors focused on something other than their grief or negative feelings, which in turn will allow them to boost their mental health.
Sometimes, even with the help of a loved one, seniors need a little bit more. Review the nearby living options for seniors, including assisted living facilities, retirement communities, and smaller homes or apartments for downsizing. If your loved one’s home is too much for them to take care of–either physically or financially–it may be time to look for something smaller or to find a comfortable spot that offers daily assistance. Talk to them about their financial needs and learn all you can about their health insurance benefits so you’ll both be prepared for any necessary changes.
Moving closer to a loved one to help them out can take a toll on your own mental health, but creating a solid plan beforehand will be extremely helpful. By finding local resources and asking for help from neighbors and friends, you can relieve some of the stress that comes with caregiving and focus on the senior in your life.
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Thank you Claire Wentz for contributing this article.