Your mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimers (or other form of dementia). She’s in Kansas City. You’re not. How can you help? Here are some tips for long-distance caregiving:
1. Plan regular visits.
Visit your mom as soon as possible to assess the situation. You’ll need to get a feel for how the dementia is currently affecting her daily life and plan ahead for disease progression.
Before you leave, schedule regular visits. If you’re unable to get time off (or can’t afford to travel at regular intervals) schedule Skype calls, or even regular phone calls, so you can stay up-to-date.
2. Safeguard the home.
During your first home visit, there are several things you can do to improve home safety for your mom. Examples include posting important phone numbers in prominent places, improving lighting, removing clutter, and installing locks and alarms.
3. Set up reminders.
You can buy recording devices online or in Kansas City technology stores that can send your mom voice reminders to do things like take her medications, prepare for an appointment, stay in the house, and more. They come in a variety of formats (e.g., bedside or table clocks, recorders, smartphone apps).
4. Learn Alzheimer’s communication skills.
As your mom’s disease progresses, her memory loss will make it difficult to communicate. So you’ll have to learn some new Alzheimer’s communication techniques. You may also want to learn what not to say to someone with dementia.
5. Embrace technology.
If your mom doesn’t have a tablet, it might be helpful to invest in one. There are a number of simple apps for people with Alzheimer’s that will help with things like wandering, medication reminders, or cognitive training.
There are also some uncomplicated technological devices (e.g., communication aids, recording devices) for people with Alzheimer’s that you can buy online or in most Kansas City department stores.
6. Utilize Kansas City Alzheimer’s resources.
You’re going to need all the help you can get. If you know your mom’s friends or neighbors, and/or she’s a member of a church community, accept any help that is offered. It also doesn’t hurt to ask. Make a list of the things you need (e.g., meal preparation, transportation to and from appointments, wellness checks) and ask people to sign up.
For educational resources, support groups, and more, check out our post on Kansas City Alzheimer’s resources.
7. Get help.
There will come a time when your mom will need more help than you can provide from a distance. So you’ll want to enlist the help of a Kansas City home health agency with expertise in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. A good home care agency can help with things like bathing and grooming, transportation, meal preparation, and light housekeeping.