After the Holidays: Tips for Managing Care from a Distance (Part 1)


After the Holidays: Tips for Managing Care from a Distance (Part 1)

After spending time with family over the holidays, you may return home with a suitcase of presents and a bag of worries.

"Mom and Dad have changed so much," you may think. "What in the world am I going to do?"

It's easy to unpack your suitcase of presents. It's awful to have that bag of worries you can't unpack because they just seem too heavy to carry.

I believe every worry needs a plan. With that in mind, our Pressing Problem Wheel can you help you focus on one problem at a time while putting a plan in place to manage each.

Let's create an example of how this could work.

Scenario: Sophie is worried about her parents, who live together in their own home. During her holiday visit, Sophie noticed that both the house and her parents looked in disarray. After reviewing the Pressing Problem Wheel, she decides that her worry about how her parents will manage if they need help keeps her up at night. She believes their isolation is the biggest problem.

Pressing Problem No. 1: Isolation
To keep her parents connected to someone during the day, Sophie calls the Meals on Wheels organization in her parents' community and orders weekday delivery for her parents. With Meals on Wheels, a volunteer will see her parents five days a week and report any problems to the office staff, who will alert Sophie. It's not so much about the meals as it is about the visit from a friendly face.

She then calls her parents and says, "I'd love for you to try Meals on Wheels and let me know what you think. The delivery will start on Monday and we'll talk about how it goes on Saturday mornings. Let's try it for a month." When they argue they don't need it, Sophie says, "I totally understand the concern that you don't need them. Let's just try it and you can let me know what you think." When they argue about the cost, Sophie says, "I totally want to pay for the first month so we're all set."

After her discussion with her parents, Sophie calls the Meals on Wheels staff member to share an update that her parents may not be on board but that she feels it's important to try the meals for at least a month.

Sophie realizes she may not have a permanent solution but she's bought herself a month. She'll take it.

Pressing Problem No. 2: Back-up
As much as Sophie would like to be there for her parents, the reality of her life is that she can't. She decides she needs a back-up. Sophie considers the neighbors and friends who live near her friends and then settles on buying her parents a tablet and a hotspot for Internet connection. She has both delivered to her parents' home and then walks them through the set-up during a phone call. As she walks them through the set-up, she jots down notes on what confuses her parents. She uses these notes to create an easy-to-follow instruction guide with reminder index cards that she mails to her parents.

The first index reminder card is for the tablet's cover and includes the following information:

  • Instructions to take the tablet and hotspot on doctor's appointments and errands.

  • The 800 number for technical support if her parents run into problems.

  • Sophie's contact information in case of emergency.

The second index card goes inside the tablet's cover and includes:

  • The password for the tablet and hotspot.

Going forward, Sophie hopes the tablet will be the way she can attend doctor's appointments with her parents without being there   in person. She also envisions using the tablet to keep in touch with home care professionals during their visits with her parents.

Sophie decides to tackle her next worries: Her parents' medical conditions, safety and driving. In Part 2, we'll work through the solutions Sophie can create to these problems.

Let's Talk It Out

  • Join me for a video chat to talk about our pressing caregiving problems on Saturday, January 12, at 11 a.m. ET (10 a.m. CT, 9 a.m. MT, 8 a.m. PT). Anyone who cares for a family member is welcome. RSVP for details on how to join us via the form below.

Additional Resources

  • My parents, who are 87 and 84, love their iPhones they purchased five years ago which is why I recommend an iPad, which starts at $329. You can purchase AppleCare for additional technical support and damage coverage. My parents live in an apartment above Verizon, which is where they purchased their iPhones. They regularly stop into the store for technical help, which has saved my sanity.

  • If Meals on Wheels has a waiting list, check into alternatives like Mom's Meals, Silver Cuisine and Chefs for Seniors.

  • If you'd like to talk out your pressing problems one-on-one, feel free to connect with our Certified Caregiving Consultants. Each offers a complementary consulting session so you determine if the consultant is right for you. Meet our Certified Caregiving Consultants.

  • My book, The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey, walks you through the caregiving experience. The book helps you build your coping strategies and manage the pressures of the experience. Buy The Caregiving Years PDF for $10. For more support, purchase our Caregiving Comfort and Courage PDF Pack which includes The Caregiving Years, Take Even More Comfort and Caregiving Lists of Your Courage, Hope and Resilience.

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