Maintaining Health & Caregiving from a Distance

by Dr. Marla E. Jirak, Owner, CoachSmart Consulting, LLC

Many families today face the challenge of needing to care for aging loved ones — 25 million women (1 in 7) provide health care for family members — but may not live close enough to physically help. 

Today there are more and more options available for family caregivers to allow their loved ones

to stay independent in their own homes.

Homes can be built or modified. There can be first floor living, zero- step entry, open spaces, wider hallways and door entries to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
Building wider walk-in showers with reinforced walls for handrails rather than tub/ shower combinations helps. A two-story home can be accommodated with an electric chair lift on stairs, entry ramps and walk-in tubs.

Automated pill dispensers help medications to be taken on time. For example, the Hero brand, has a monthly membership fee that sorts and dispenses a 90-day supply of 10 different medications, a lifetime guarantee, 24/7 support and mobile alerts. Live Fine is more basic with a 28- day supply you can set up with an online portal, has a buzzer alert and a mobile alert, but no monthly fees.

Personal medical response devices help when a person falls or has another kind of accident. Life Alert is a pendant or wristband with a button to press to alert a monitoring center. MobileHelp or GreatCall 5Star have an on-the-go mobile device with GPS satellite location tracking. GrandCare Systems is a multipurpose system with an internet connection with wireless monitors in the home. These devices track daily activity, have medical monitors (blood pressure, glucose, weight, etc.) and can display anything the person needs (exercise, diets, etc.). This can be viewed through a website. 

Video monitoring devices like Ring and Alexa and other monitoring systems can help monitor a loved one’s movement in their home. Cameras or door alarms can easily be placed to monitor when doors open and allow viewing of other home areas to enable safety. Online and mobile access allows cameras to be monitored remotely.

The internet has enabled family members to assist their loved ones if they need help with their financial, medical and personal needs. Enlist the help of a lawyer to set up a power of attorney or a guardianship or conservatorship so another family member can assist. Lastly, on-line Zoom and Goggle Chat apps enable virtual face-to-face connections to enhance the loved one’s social connection.