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No. 4. Make Technology Your Friend

Introduce your loved one to technology that helps you stay connected, like FaceTime or Skype. When you chat face to face through programs like those, you'll be able to see his living space in the background. It can alert you to potential problems you may not notice over a voice-only call.

If you're worried that he isn't taking some of his daily meds, look for apps that can help you both keep track.

Talk with your loved one's doctors about how you can stay in touch with them. Maybe they can put you on speakerphone for important appointments, or give you access (with your loved one's permission) to online medical records.

No. 5. Keep a Paper File

When you visit your loved one, make photocopies of all important medical documents and insurance paperwork, so you can relay information over the phone or fax if needed. Also collect contact information for financial advisors, attorneys, and doctors.

Talk to your loved one about whether he wants a living will. This document instructs doctors about how to care for him if he can no longer communicate.

Also discuss whether you should get legal documents that let you be his "financial power of attorney" and "health care proxy." That way you can make money and medical decisions for him if he can't make them on his own. You'll need the advice of a lawyer to arrange this.  

No. 6. Ask the Right Questions

When you talk with your loved one over the phone, ask him if he's been taking his medication and whether he's tripped and fallen lately. But to keep from getting into a routine where he answers automatically without thinking, you should ask in different ways.

"You can ask every day, 'Did you take your pills?' But every couple of weeks, throw a curveball and say, 'Hey Mom, how many pills are left in that bottle?'" Schall says. "That way you're giving her a reminder that she needs a refill soon, but you also may get a better sense of whether she's really taking them."