How to Care For Loved Ones When You Are Apart


In the age of social distancing, more people are caring for loved ones despite being apart. And for some, supporting older relatives or family with disabilities from a distance is a challenge they’ve been dealing with since before the pandemic.

Living apart requires effort to care for loved ones when you’re residing in various parts of the world. Sometimes, families find it necessary to enlist outside help, such as home health aide professionals, to step in.

Enlisting the help of home health aide professionals will allow your loved ones to stay in the comfort of their own homes. From administering medications and attending important doctor’s appointments with them to being a source of daily interaction, home health aides can be the bridge to help you support loved ones from afar.

When it comes to staying connected, people across generations can utilize technology. But technology isn’t the only way everyone can stay connected. Even simple phone calls — or that old stand-by, snail mail, can keep families and friends connected around the world.

The Downside Of Distance

For reasons such as pursuing higher education or accepting a new job offer, young people frequently move away from the hometowns where they spent their childhoods. While many older family members are excited to see Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z strike out on their own, this mass migration potentially leaves the same elderly relatives without care and even simple companionship.

Add to this the fact that while youth are leaving small towns, healthcare providers are barely trickling in to take care of the needs of various populations. In towns across the U.S., nurse practitioners were taking up the healthcare slack, and they provide care patients need when friends and family are unable to do so themselves.

Who Can Step In To Help

Fortunately, there are options for family members who need care. Home health aide professionals can provide much-needed support, and there are various types of aide professionals. Some specialize in healthcare, others personal care. There are even personal care aides who provide companionship and prepare meals. Want to make it easy on both everyone involved? Sign your family member up for a meal service or two.

Your loved one’s doctor, the state’s department of health, and local social services such as a senior center are excellent resources for finding home health care agencies. These aides can provide care such as helping with pets, accompanying their client to doctor’s appointments, or even overseeing mail and package deliveries. In addition to checking references, it’s important to find a home health aide that is a good fit personality-wise with your loved one. To do so, be sure to involve them in the search and hiring process.

Connecting Through Technology

Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to stay connected with loved ones when you’re far apart. Regular communication is vital for maintaining healthy relationships. During the coronavirus pandemic, tech companies showed up big time to help people deal with the challenges of social distancing.

At the beginning of April, Facebook introduced a new messenger app for group video calls and chats that syncs across desktop devices. Zoom, a free web conferencing tool, is another favorite of people sheltering in place. In addition to helping facilitate communication between colleagues working from home, the platform’s group meeting function has been perfect for virtual happy hours.

Video calling has never been more popular. Other technology tools for connecting include FaceTime, Skype, and Marco Polo.

For people using this technology for the first time, it’s helpful to provide a few tips before starting the video call. Remind everyone to be in a well-lit area and to position their devices so they’re looking at the camera straight on. Any aide who happens to be present can help with using the mute button to minimize ambient noise.

Beyond video calls, you can use messaging platforms like WhatsApp to stay connected. Consider starting a group chat and inviting far-flung friends and family. It might help if the group has a focus such as discussing books or swapping recipes.

When it comes to caring for loved ones when you are apart, it doesn’t matter so much what you talk about as it does that you make the effort to keep in touch.

Keeping In Touch The Old-Fashioned Way

Technology isn’t the only way to keep people together while they’re staying apart. There are some old-fashioned ways of dealing with the “new normal.”

First, never underestimate the power of a handwritten letter. For most people, receiving mail is a seldom occurrence these days, so opening up their mailbox to reveal a note or postcard would be a real treat. You might also consider sending books or movies with a short message saying why you enjoyed them.

Just like handwritten letters are special, so is hearing the voice of someone you love. Make a point of calling family members and having a good old-fashioned conversation. Landlines are still good for something! Use the opportunity to ask older loved ones about their childhood.

HuffPost contributor Dr. Karl A. Pillemer suggests asking elders open-ended questions such as what they believe the secret to a happy marriage is or what they know now about living a successful life that they didn’t when they were young. Your questions and interest show that you care. Plus, you might even learn something.

Crises like the coronavirus outbreak have a way of putting things into perspective. It’s likely made you think about your relationships and what you can do to make them even stronger. Despite being apart, there are ways to show your loved ones that you care. Putting forth the effort to stay connected will make both them and you feel good.

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