Health Assessment Tips for Long-Distance Dementia Caregivers

For many adults with aging parents, the realization that mom and dad are going to need extra care can be difficult. It’s easy for relationships to become damaged when family dynamics change and children become the caregivers to their parents. Most adult children do not want to believe that dad is declining physically and needs assistance doing simple tasks or that mom’s memory loss is an early symptom of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

If you are a long-distance caregiver, we have compiled a list of ways to evaluate the mental and physical health of your family member. If you find yourself fulfilling the duties of a long-distance caregiver for a family member with dementia, there are a variety of ways to assess the health of your mother or father when you are visiting them.

How to Evaluate the Mental and Physical Health of a Parent With Dementia

1. Perform an Inspection of the Kitchen

A disadvantage of acting as a long-distance caregiver is that you will be required to travel to your mother or father’s home every couple of weeks to inspect the cleanliness and safety hazards. Check the refrigerator to confirm if your parent is regularly shopping for groceries each week. Look for spoiled food and drinks in the kitchen. If the condition of the kitchen is disorganized each time you visit, this is a sign it’s time to hire a full-time dementia caregiver or move your family member into a care community.

3 Tips For Long-Distance Caregivers: Ways to Handle Dementia2. Evaluate Your Family Member’s Ability to Finish Daily Tasks and Chores

Perform an inspection of the exterior of your parents house. Do you notice dead plants or garbage in the yard? If your mother or father is not able to do daily yard work or chores, this is an indicator it’s time to invest in additional care. Browse your family member’s financial statements and checkbooks to confirm they are paying the bills on time.

In addition, check the mailbox to confirm our loved one is collecting the mail each day. If there are unpaid bills each time you visit, this is a sign that your family member requires more support than a long-distance caregiver is able to provide. It’s time to consider transitioning your mother or father into a Alzheimer’s or dementia care community to ensure they are safe.

Related Article: Interesting Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease

3. Make Observations Based on Appearance and Hygiene

A telltale sign your family member is unable to take care of themselves is personal appearance. Is your family member shaving? When was the last time your mother or father received a haircut? If your mother or father with dementia is continuously wearing the same clothes each time you visit, this is an indicator that they need assistance with bathing and getting dressed. In order to be a good long-distance caregiver, you should regularly inspect the health and hygiene of your family member.

3 Tips For Long-Distance Caregivers: Ways to Handle DementiaUseful Ways For Long-Distance Caregivers to Spend Time With a Family Member

  • Make appointments with your family members physician, lawyer and financial adviser during your visit to participate in any decision-making.
  • Meet with neighbors, friends and other relatives to hear how they think the person is doing. Ask if there have been any behavioral changes, health problems or safety issues.
  • Take the time to reconnect with your loved one by talking, listening to music, going for a walk or participating in activities you enjoy together.

Denying the Early Signs of Dementia

Once a parent starts to develop signs of Alzheimer’s, it is normal for a son or daughter to deny the physical and mental symptoms of the disease. On the other hand, a mother or father may be reluctant to accept a diagnosis because they don’t want to give up their role as a parent. Although the symptoms of dementia can be hard for the caregiver and parent to accept, the situation becomes more difficult when the family lives far apart.

Related Article: Types of Gifts For Family Members With Alzheimer’s

Long Distance Caregiving Requires Careful Planning

Acting as a dementia caregiver for an aging parent that lives in a different state is going to require special planning and organizing. Of course, this type of care is only successful if the family member is still moderately independent. At the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, people can still perform daily tasks and activities. As a caregiver, you will need to monitor your parents behavior during each trip to determine if more care is necessary, such as in-home care or an Alzheimer’s care community.

Why It’s Important for Caregivers to Follow Every Tip

By following these caregiver tips, you will be able to better care for and monitor your loved one’s health, even from long-distance. It can be easy to ignore signs and symptoms when you visit. No one wants “to spoil” a visit by discussing and dwelling on these issues. However, by taking these initial steps, the caregiver will have a better grasp of the situation and will be better prepared to make tough decisions when the time comes. If the duties of being a long-distance caregiver are becoming too demanding, give our staff a call by phone at (630) 534-0886. We offer Alzheimer’s and dementia care services in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. In addition, the staff at our community offer memory respite care services to help your family member transition from their stay at the hospital to home care.