Long Distance Caregiving

You may not have anticipated becoming a long-distance caregiver, but if you are helping a loved one that lives more than an hour away, it is a reality. It can be challenging to know how best to help but don’t panic; there are some steps you can take that will make things easier now and down the road.

Make a Plan

This may seem obvious, but it’s an important first step to take, while everyone is cognitively aware. If you are the caregiver for a parent, ask questions now about their healthcare, medications, doctors and any other information that you might need to assist with later on. Take the time to understand and document any desires they may have for today and for future care. Health situations can change quickly, so having your loved one’s details and wishes documented will relieve stress and make decision-making easier.

Get Help

Although an hour may seem like a long distance for some, the reality is that many adult children are acting as caregivers across states. If so, is it imperative to drop everything and jump on a plane to take care of your loved one? Not necessarily. Sometimes leaving your own family and job may not be feasible, even though you want to make sure your parent or family member is being well cared for. If that is your situation, consider hiring a geriatric care manager.

What is a geriatric care manager?

The National Institute on Aging defines a geriatric care manager this way, “A geriatric care manager, usually a licensed nurse or social worker who specializes in geriatrics, is a sort of “professional relative” who can help you and your family to identify needs and find ways to meet your needs.” Simply put, these professionals can help stand-in for your parent even when you’re not there. Whether helping with complex medical concerns or assessing daily physical and emotional needs, these individuals can care for your loved ones and help you stay connected. They also allow loved ones to maintain independence.

 How Can I Find One?

To find a geriatric care manager, reach out to local senior organizations near where your loved one is living and ask for recommendations. You can also check online at https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx.

Consider Assisted Living

If your loved one needs more dedicated care, you can begin the process of choosing an assisted living community even if you’re not close by. While a visit may be necessary at some point, there are a lot of things you can do to begin the process. Before starting your search, understand your budget, and assess the financial feasibility for any community.

Once costs have been determined, narrow the options down from your initial three to five picks. It’s equally important that care needs are considered along with budget. This can be difficult to do if you are unsure of your parent’s current health considerations and is another area where a geriatric care manager is helpful.

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Blending Style and Safety

Blending Style and Safety

Whether buying a first home or moving into a new apartment, there is an important connection we make between where we live and what our spaces look like. Maplewood Senior Living is designed with that connection in mind, offering an essential feeling of home for the residents in our communities. At the same time, we develop our communities to be safe, from the dining rooms to the hallways to the courtyards. It’s all in the details, when it comes to blending style and safety.

A few key areas to focus on when touring a senior community:

Exterior/Entry ways

 These should be easily accessible to accommodate all. Large entry ways also make it easier to move furniture in for your loved one. Bright, well-lit entrance areas should allow for greater visibility of sidewalk and flooring transitions.

Windows

 If operational, should be limited to the opening that is provided for the safety and security of the residents in the community. This is something that should be considered in both private, apartment spaces, but also in common areas.

Grab bars

 Not always stylish, but always an added safety mechanism, grab bars go a long way to prevent falls. Installing these as towel bars allows you to have the security necessary, while still providing the functionality of the towel bar.

Bathrooms

 Modern bathrooms with ample open space around the toilet and shower entry, as well as zero-entry shower areas have grown in popularity. The advantage of this style is also its ability to accommodate staff members as well as the resident if/when the need arises. Doors that swing in to a bathroom can limit access by staff or emergency personnel, if the need arises. Barn style or pocket doors offer a great alternative and add a bit of style.                 

Outside Areas

 Patios, courtyards or other outdoor gathering spaces should allow for easy transitions. Residents may need to use canes, walkers or wheelchairs, and outdoor spaces should be accessible regardless of these needs. Relief from direct sun should also be available to keep residents safe in hot, sunny weather – covered porches, gazebos and umbrellas provide alternatives to stay out of the direct sun.

We’ve included a few snapshots of our communities to illustrate some of these key points. Enjoy the photo tour!

 

 

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