Many young adults have chosen to leave their hometowns and move to a big city to pursue higher education or for better job prospects. The rate of urbanization in Canada has steadily increased in recent years - currently, 80% of the Canadian population live in big cities while smaller towns are on the decline.
The journey of leaving one's hometown for greener pastures can be daunting, from adjusting to a new environment to finding a job to justify the move. However, in time, the real challenge lies back home - taking care of an aging loved one.
Portrait of a Caregiver
In a study conducted by Statistics Canada, roughly half a million Canadians live an hours drive away from an aging loved one. Most of these Canadians live in large metropolitan areas, are educated and have promising careers. They are also more likely to take time off work to care for an aging parent due to the distance travelled for care. Most of these Canadians are also the only child in their family, which adds to the pressure of caregiving.
What are the needs for aging parents who live far away?
The needs of an aging loved one can range from everyday chores to medical attention, depending on the age and life stage of the care receiver. In most cases, care receivers need help in daily chores such as transportation, shopping for groceries and fulfilling financial obligations such as paying bills. Apart from daily tasks, care receivers also need assistance in personal care, medical care and coordinating healthcare needs.
These needs take up a lot of time from caregivers in time off work and lesser personal time for one's mental wellbeing. While the loss of work hours and extra expenses are obvious challenges that caregivers face, burnout and stress are other factors that come into play when dealing with remote care.
How can you provide remote care for an aging parent?
If you’re one of the half a million Canadians who care for aging parents that live far away, you’re not alone. The process of providing care under such circumstances can feel daunting and lonely, but there are many out there who go through the same problem as you do.
Living far away from your parents comes with the stress of worrying about them constantly. One way to overcome this is through remote care, which can help in attaining peace of mind. Through remote care, you can communicate with your elderly loved ones through video calls without taking time away from work or personal time off.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, you can provide better care for your aging parents remotely instead of providing care when you visit. Through remote care, you can look after your parents around the clock. This helps in improving the quality of care provided and drives social connectedness with your loved ones.
Here are some ways in which you can care for your aging parent remotely.
In case your aging loved one doesn't need care all the time, recruiting a network of friends and families who can keep an eye on the care receiver while you’re away is a great way to provide care. Such a network of friends and family can help in household chores, preparing meals and making visits to the doctor.
In some cases, it's also an option to hire a professional to tend to your aging parent’s needs 24/7. Although this may not be an expensive option, professional caregivers can help in tending to a wide range of daily tasks to make sure that the care receiver is taken care of. Hiring a professional caregiver can range anywhere between $20 to $35 depending on the care receiver’s needs. For instance, if the care receiver needs medical attention, a certified nursing assistant would be required to tend to the aging parent. Such factors come into play when assessing the costs of caregiving.
Adult Day Care
Similar to child day care, adult day care looks after adults under secured supervision. Adult day cares can help monitor the health of the care receiver and provide other activities to help with overall mental and physical well-being. This is a great way to keep care receivers engaged and meet other individuals who are in the same life stage.
Care through volunteers
These days, a lot of communities have volunteers who dedicate their time to caring for the elderly. These care groups can help prepare meals for your loved ones, grocery shopping and everyday errands like basic home improvements. This is another effective way to ensure that your aging parent is cared for while you’re away.
How can technology help in remote care?
While caring for your aging parents through hired help, community support, care facilities, and friends & family can be great ways to assist physically. You can also consider technology as a way to constantly stay in touch with your loved ones.
Technology can help by remotely tracking the whereabouts of your aging parent through GPS trackers. Cameras can aid in monitoring your aging parents' home to make sure they are safe. Video conferencing is another powerful tool to stay connected with your aging parent. Third party apps are a great way to provide care for your parents. With apps like Instacart and UberEats, you can order groceries and food for your aging parents remotely. TaskRabbit is another great tool to hire taskers to help with chores like electrical work, plumbing, picking up groceries, delivery, home repairs, and moving.
However, it doesn't end there. Technology has come a long way in recent years and there are solutions to remotely monitor the vital signs of your loved ones. For instance, at Skiin, we are on the verge of launching a textile based wearable technology geared towards solving this problem. With Skiin, you can track your aging parents vitals such as heart rate, movement, location and temperature from the comfort of your home. Skiin is being developed keeping the care receiver and care giver in the mind and will also provide fall detection and early signs of cardiovascular diseases soon!
While taking care of an aging parent who lives far away can be overwhelming, there are many solutions in the market to ease the challenges as a caregiver. It’s important to understand your aging parent’s needs and meet those needs through some of the solutions outlined here. With the help of professional services and technologies like Skiin, you can help your parents lead a healthy life even when you live far away from them.
Written by Lemuel Satamkar
Skiin Product Marketing Team