Many of us have moved close to them in their twilight years or moved them close to us. And many more who have always been close to the same area. As they age, we travel more and we worry more when we can’t see them quickly or drive over to check on them. This list certainly isn’t comprehensive, but I have taken a few steps in the past year, without really realizing it, that have helped our immediate family to travel for work or vacation without worrying that something will happen to my mother.
This is a little strange but the first trip we took a few years ago, we put a hold on our mail, and then checked a box asking if we wanted our mail scanned. What we backed into was that the scans keep coming each day, even after we returned, so we know what is coming. Then I had a thought to do this for my mother. I held her mail for a day, put in my email address, and checked the box for scanning, then turned her mail back on. Now, when we are away, I can ask her what came in the mail or to make sure she checks the front porch for packages. I know this sounds weird and intrusive, you’d need to understand my relationship with my mother to know that this is cool and we joke about it, but it allows me to have a window into some part of her day and puts me a little bit at ease.
This one you probably know about. I have an apple watch and it has medical alert feature built in. My mom has an ipad and an iphone, and has been better than almost everyone else her age at begrudingly adopting tech, but she drew the line at a watch. She doesn’t like (and frequently shares) how much I am distracted by a new chirp or notification. I guess I messed this one up. Anyway, we checked out Life Alert because we remembered the videos from 100 years ago. They are still going!! They haven’t improved much, but we found a lot of competitors. And found this page for a Life Alert costs comparison to other players. I don’t want to root for one vs the other, but knowing that my mom has something on her that she can push if she falls or has an issue helped again drop my blood pressure when we are gone.
Circle of Care
We don’t call it this. We call it her “lunch bunfor”. Sometimes her “email buddies” but I have since heard there is a term for this called “Circle of Care” for those with mental health issues or other needs for wellness checks, but we, I guess, stole the blueprints for our own peace of mind. Basically, you get some people who are willing to check in on mom when we are gone. BUT THERE IS A TRICK TO THIS! Make sure that you have them check in WHEN YOU AREN’T GONE. Otherwise, these relationships can feel like babysitting (mom is pretty strong-willed). And the final thing here is to also volunteer to help others. My best friend from grade school is one of the people who check in on my mom through email or pop overs and I do the same for her father. Then we make sure to tell the other when we are out of town.
Listen, this is probably something I only wanted before I have it and really don’t love it since we installed, but maybe you will. I don’t want to push a product so here is the website where we started our search. As you know, when someone approaches the door, the camera starts and I get an email with a video. And sound. Sounds great right? Again, I thought so too before we had one, just so that I could, I don’t know, make sure no one was robbing my mom? Anyway, I get probably 3-5 videos a day of postmen and people stopping in the yard for their dogs to pee and tons of other videos that really don’t help me at all with my stress while I am away and flood my inbox when I’m home and really don’t need them. (I know I can turn them off, but you can’t stop once you start.) Annnnnd with the sound function, I learned that my mom talks to her dog an awful lot. Not in the standard owner-pet conversations, but, well it’s weird. She’s lonelier than I thought. And frankly it’s a bit heartbreaking that I can’t be with her all the time (not that she would want that). This is a thing one can do, and it will seem like a logical step from the outside, but one I wish I hadn’t now that I know better.