By Stephanie Aragon, Director of Helpline
"I took over caregiving responsibilities for my father eight months ago. I visit your website a few times a month to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and how to care for my dad. I recently switched jobs and now will frequently travel between Chicago and New York. How can I continue to manage my father’s care when I am out of town? — Howard"
Long distance caregiving can sometimes be challenging but there are several ways to make it a bit easier. It is helpful to try to keep in direct contact with your dad by phone as often as possible. Having a relative or friend check in with you and your dad can be very reassuring. Be sure to have a list of his medications and important phone numbers placed either on the refrigerator or near a phone; EMTs often look there in an emergency. Registering your father in our MedicAlert® NYC Wanderer’s Safety Program and having him wear an identification bracelet or necklace is also important to ensure that he is reunited with you should he go missing and it provides a personal health record.
There are various mobile applications that can help make your caregiving journey easier. Most offer a profile of the person with dementia which includes basic information like his or her date of birth, gender, and the contact information for his or her physicians. The app can also be used to track medication, listing all medications with their purpose as well as dosages, prescribing physician, pharmacy, and RX number. Some sync with your calendar and send reminders when it’s time for the person with dementia to take his or her medicine. There is even a journal section for recording notes for the next doctor’s visit.
Multiple user access is available so that you can share this information with other relatives or a trusted neighbor, if appropriate.
Yes, technology can make life a lot easier but don’t forget about the human touch. People are the answer, and you don’t have to look far to find the right people. CaringKind is the heart of Alzheimer’s caregiving and we are available 24 hours a day to listen to your concerns and provide support throughout your caregiving journey.
Helpline Specialists are always ready to lend an ear and can steer you in the right direction regarding which seminars and workshops to attend along with which programs you would benefit most from. Additionally, they can discuss different strategies to help with your dad’s care, products for the kitchen such as knob covers for the stove, or handling restless behavior.
Once you start going to seminars or support group sessions you will be meeting people dealing with situations similar to your own and hearing how they deal with them. This is not to deny the importance of friends who listen and do not judge, and who may offer you a break by staying with your relative for a couple of hours or inviting you to get out of the house and join them for a cup of coffee.
It is important to make sure that your father feels comfortable and is occupied during the day. Depending on his level of cognition, the following options are available: CaringKind’s Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Early Stage Center, which offers programs for those in the very early stages, adult day programs in both social and medical models in all five boroughs, and home care agencies paid privately or through Medicaid.
Helpline Specialists can also make an introduction to our social work department so you can meet with one of our social workers for an in-depth consultation regarding the current situation that you face with the person with dementia, or situations with other family members. We are here to provide advice and link you to programs for you, the caregiver, as well as the person being cared for. Please feel free to call us any time at 646-744-2900.