More Creative Resources for Long-Distance Caregivers

One of the many things I love about writing “Ask Dr. Chill” is receiving feedback from my readers (for a great example, see my most recent post about Cubs fans and caregiving).

While I try to capture the essence of a concept or service in my writing, it’s impossible to mention every example of a caregiver resource. I truly appreciate when readers send me information that can help our community of caregivers. Here are some ideas sent by readers in response to my post on long-distance caregiving:

A New Kind of Memo

Merilee Griffin, Ph.D. – a fellow psychologist – has developed a ten-inch tablet called the Memo that can help older adults with memory problems. The device displays the day, date, and time as well as provides information 24/7 such as medication and appointment reminders, to-do lists, and a help button to contact the caregiver.

If you’re a long-distance caregiver, you can log into the system from your own computer to edit your loved one’s information remotely. While I don’t have personal experience with the Memo, I was intrigued and impressed by its ingenuity and potential to help long-distance caregivers.

Courtesy of NCI/Ernie Branson

Getting in the Comfort Zone

Here's an additional tool for those who care for family members at risk of wandering or getting lost driving. Comfort Zone, offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, is an Internet-based GPS location monitoring service that allows long-distance caregivers to track their loved ones’ whereabouts by logging into the system from their own computers.

A pocket device can be carried in the person’s clothing or purse, while a car device can be installed on the person’s vehicle. Caregivers are alerted by email or text if the person travels outside of a specified zone.

Neither the Memo nor Comfort Zone is free (each include fees for the device and a monthly service subscription), but they may be well worth the money if they can help long-distance caregivers monitor their family members from afar.

Online Support Groups Abound

I’ve touted the benefits of online support groups for all caregivers, but they can be especially helpful for long-distance caregivers looking for a lifeline to guide and support them through their unique circumstances.

I’ve already listed several online options here; however, just last week Caring.com launched over a dozen new online support groups for caregivers including groups for spouses, adult children, and those caring for loved ones with specific diseases. This is great news for long-distance caregivers who have trouble finding others who can empathize with their situations.

The best part of receiving this kind of feedback is that it means there are more caregiver resources out there than ever before. They may vary in their utility, relevancy or merit, but they demonstrate that society is finally thinking about caregivers more seriously. Given the number of caregivers in this country and beyond, that’s a very good thing.

If you’ve tried these resources, please share your experiences here. And if you’re a long-distance caregiver and you see gaps in care and services I haven’t mentioned, speak out about that too. You know this world better than anyone, and I want to keep learning what it’s like from the inside out.

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