Community Networking for Caregivers: Asking an Elderly Parent’s Neighbors for Help


According to the National Alliance for Caregiving Report, about 34 million Americans are caregivers for an elderly parent; 15 percent of them live at least one hour away from their care subject. That much distance can make it difficult to provide the level of personal care your parent may need. It falls to you to communicate with a loved one’s care providers from a distance, schedule appointments and make sure they take place as planned, to say nothing of keeping track of your parent’s health status on a daily basis.

Long-distance caregiving can be a very stressful and frustrating experience, and requires a tremendous amount of time and patience. If you or your parent lack the resources to hire an in-home professional care assistant, you’ll need some other means of being able to intervene on short notice if required. If you live hours away, you may need to call on your parent’s neighbors or someone else local who’s in a position to help at a moment’s notice.

Meet the Neighbors

It can be difficult to rely on people whom you don’t know well (or at all) for something as important as keeping an eye on your parent and perhaps intervening for you if something goes wrong. Of course, you can’t just dial up a neighbor and ask their help out of the blue with no introduction or information, so you’ll need to make some personal connections. Plan a trip to your parent’s house and call on the neighbors for a friendly chat. Bring a cake, cookies or something you can offer as a sign of goodwill and gratitude, and to break the ice. It’s likely that your parent will have had some kind of interaction with the folks next door over the years, so your situation is probably known to them, though they may not be aware that you’re acting as a long-distance caregiver.

Your Request

Be specific with your request to them. They may not be willing or able to go as far as taking your loved one to medical appointments, but it’s easy enough to keep an eye on whether the shades have been closed for an unusual amount of time, or if the daily newspapers and the mail have accumulated to an unusual extent. If they notice anything out of the ordinary, ask if they can ring the doorbell or call to make sure all’s well. Elderly and infirm individuals often are too feeble to get out of the bathtub, and frequently slip and fall and are unable to get back up, so tell the neighbor you’re concerned about just such a scenario.

The best situation would be for a neighbor to knock on the door every couple of days to check on your parent’s condition and call you if they notice anything amiss, like slurred speech or an unusually ragged appearance. Sometimes, just knowing something looks a little off can put you on alert and prepare you to take sudden action from your end.

Alternatives

If your parent doesn’t live in a neighborhood, or if the neighbors are in a rural area and live at a great distance, you’ll probably need to look into some other alternatives. Make a point of meeting key people and agencies in your parent’s community who might be able to jump in and help should something go wrong. Investigate organizations like A Little Help, which promotes generational interdependence by connecting you with people who live nearby.

Drop in on the local senior center, check to see if there’s an organization for the elderly affiliated with local government, or seek out a senior care referral organization. At the least, they may know someone local who can help you out. Also make sure your parent’s doctor and health care team are aware of the situation.

Long-distance caregiving is always a logistical challenge. If you’re unprepared for the unexpected, something tragic may result, so make the effort to reach out and make local connections. If your parent’s neighbors are unwilling or unable to get involved, it may be necessary to cast a wider net in the community.

Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

As an assisted living provider, we understand that every situation in dealing with an elder family member is different; not every family is capable or willing to proceed with seeking assisted living care for their loved one(s). In such a situation, it may become imperative for you as the caregiver/responsible party to seek the assistance of those who can provide more immediate assistance if necessary. A word of thanks is due to Claire Wentz for sharing some insight into what can be done. Claire Wentz was a home health nurse who recognizes that there will be an increased number of senior caregivers in proportion to the rising aging population.

Respectfully,

The Owners of Holistically Devoted Assisted Living

Holistically Devoted Assisted Living Facility (HDAL) is the premier assisted living provider in Prince George's County, Maryland. At HDAL, we deliver holistic health care to our residents - by meeting all their personal needs while allowing them the dignity of being freethinking and independent adults; and we provide devoted service - by being ever-present as servants in the lives of our residents as we assist them with performing their activities of daily living.

#seniorcare #senior #assistedliving #care #caregiving

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