Three Ways Long-Distance Caregivers Can Help Senior Loved Ones with Mobility Issues

You don’t have to live close by to take good care of a senior loved one. We all want to help our seniors live happy and healthy lives, but sometimes life puts hundreds of miles between us. If it can’t be helped, we must find a way to care from afar. If your loved one has mobility issues, there are some specific ways you can help them stay independent. Here are some tips.

Arrange for their transportation
If your senior loved one suffers from mobility issues, there’s a good chance that they are no longer driving themselves around. But seniors still need to get out and about, of course. They need to attend social functions, buy groceries, go to doctor’s appointments, and go to church. You can help them lead fuller lives by knowing about the various transportation options they have. As points out, many churches and community organizations provide free shuttle services for seniors. These are usually trustworthy people doing a community service, so your loved one will feel comfortable using this form of transportation. They rely on volunteers drivers, however, so it may not always be 100% reliable – but it is a good option. Some medical facilities also offer transportation services.

These are good first options, but sometimes you need to pay for a ride. Thankfully, ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft allow you to schedule rides for other people from afar. You can use these inexpensive transportation apps to get your senior loved one from point A to point B on-demand. If your senior is wary of using modern services like this (getting in cars with strangers may be odd for them), there is always the public transportation option. You can help your senior loved one by buying and renewing their bus pass or subway or train voucher.

Hire services
Seniors with mobility issues may struggle to complete some of their day-to-day responsibilities, or they may just need some help every now and then. You can help out by hiring essential services like housekeeping, lawn care, and in-home medical assistance.

Apps can help here too. An app like TaskRabbit lets you connect with skilled workers for a variety of tasks and odd jobs – if your loved one needs someone to come set up a piece of new furniture, for example, or change a lightbulb that’s too high for them to reach. When you can’t be there to help them with small, everyday tasks, it’s nice to be able to get someone on the job with a couple of taps on your iPhone.

Modify their home
If you want to keep your senior loved one safe and comfortable in their home, you should consider modifying to meet the requirements of their particular mobility issue. Some simple home mods may include:

– Handbars and grab rails in the bathroom and around the bed

– Non-slip floor surfaces

– Extra lighting

– Shower benches

– Small ramps to cover steps

If their mobility issues are a bit more severe, you can consider in-home lifts or space modifications like widening doorways and knocking out walls to create a more open floor plan.

The key to your loved one’s happiness, safety, and independence is giving them the tools and services they need to compensate for their mobility issues. Seniors with disabilities still need to get places, get household chores and tasks done, and move about their homes freely and without fear of falling. By arranging this through apps, services, and home modifications, you can play a part in your senior’s care even if you live hundreds of miles away.

Written by Marie Villeza and submitted to for publication. November 12, 2017.

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