Are you a family member, friend, or care partner who is caring for a loved one with dementia from afar? Do you find it challenging to stay in touch with your loved one and offer your care remotely? This post is just for you. Today we discuss strategies that you can use to stay in touch and continue caring for your loved one from a distance.
A Phone Call Away
An obvious way to stay in touch with your loved one is through the telephone. However, we understand many individuals living with dementia face challenges communicating over the phone as they progress along their dementia journey. If your loved one is still able and willing to chat on the phone, make it a routine to call at least once a week and check in. Having a conversation will help them to maintain those social skills, which are very important for persons living with dementia. A phone call can help boost someone's mood and let them know you are thinking of them. Alternatively if your loved one with dementia faces challenges speaking over the phone, call a relative when you know they will be visiting with them. This might help to encourage more conversation with your loved one.
Another way to care is to use a videochat platform to stay in touch. This is also a great way to visually see how your loved one with dementia is doing and to communicate in other forms, such as through gestures and expressions. While your loved one might have a computer, this is an easier process when a relative, friend, or other care partner is also present to help set this up.
Send a Parcel in the Mail
Caring from a distance can also be done through gifts or a small package. Send your loved one their favourite flowers, snacks, a photoframe, or another small item that will make their day. This will help them know that you are thinking of them and that you care even though you might not be right next to them. Make it personal and include a small card reminding them how much they mean to you.
Remain Connected with Care Network
Stay in contact with your loved ones' care network. Check in often and be available to chat when doctors appointments come up. Remain connected with the care network and share your thoughts if changes arise. Be a person of support for others in the network and let them know that you want to be as involved as you want to be. While you might not be there to offer a physical presence, it's important to let them know you want to be a part of the care network. Stay involved in the daily routine and know what your loved one participates in. Request to see their calendar to stay up to date on their care.
Seek Out Opportunities
Find creative ways to stay involved through different opportunities. Is there another opportunity for your loved one to join to stay involved in their community? Have you come across any new information that you think your care network should know about? Find opportunities that might better support your loved one and that you can do from a distance.
Remain Educated and Involved
Another great way to care is by staying up to date on the latest information about dementia. Attend educational sessions, find new products, or become involved in a support group. All of these aspects will help you to better care for your loved one and to understand what they are going through. This is also a great opportunity to learn more ways that you can remain involved from a distance and speak to other care partners about how you're feeling.
Offer Advice Where Needed
If you have learned anything new or have found any interesting opportunities for your loved one with dementia, offer this to your loved one and others in the care network. If asked for any advice, share what you know and your opinion. Be supportive throughout and understand that you are a team and help each other when needed. While there are many ups and downs along the dementia journey, it is important to keep your loved one at the forefront of their care and consider their interests and feelings. Your loved one's care will be impacted if there are negative feelings amongst their care network.
Show your Love
Remember to reflect on why you are caring and why what you are doing is important. Show your love for your relative with dementia and the care network. This will only help boost their care and keep everyone in a positive mood. If you notice someone in the network is feeling down, stressed, or burnt out, share your appreciation for them with a small pick me up or message reminding them of how great of a job they are doing.
Are you a long distance care partner? How do you care from a distance? Share with us in the comments below!