Long-distance caregiving brings a lot of challenges. In the modern world, many families have geographically spread apart. And you are not always able to provide the care you would like. You are a long-distance caregiver if you live an hour or more away from a person who needs care. It involves caring in the form of helping with money management, providing emotional support, making medical appointments or arranging for in-home care, and planning for emergencies.
Learn and Evaluate what you can do
Learn about your loved one’s health, treatment, and available caregiving resources. All information can help you understand what is going on, estimate the course of an illness, prevent crises, and assist in healthcare management. As a long-distance caregiver, all this information will also make talking with the doctor easier.
Try to put all the essential information in one place—It can be a notebook or in a shared, secure online document. Information should include all financial issues, medical care, contact numbers, social services, etc. You can make copies for other caregivers and try to keep the information updated.
Plan visit to an aging parent
Always plan before visiting your loved one because most of the time, you feel that there is just too much to do in that little time. You think that more could be done and feel a little stressed. In long-distance caregiving, it is recommended to talk to your family member or friend ahead and find out what they would like to do. Also, stay in touch with the primary caregiver to learn what they need, such as handling some caregiving tasks while you are in town. It may help you set clear-cut and realistic goals for a visit.
Explore Different Living Arrangements
In the long-distance caregiving a parent seeks help from those living closer to home. In rare cases, families make it work by moving closer to the parent’s location. Most families find it easier to have the parents move closer to the adult children.
If moving is not a suitable option, One can hire in-home care, either full-time or part-time, to provide some support. Senior living communities also offer:
- 24/7 access to health care.
- Enriching programs and activities.
- Assistance with activities of daily living.
- A social network that helps combat loneliness.
Have a family meeting
Gather the family together on the same page, whether in person, on the phone, or via Skype or FaceTime. All you have to understand is what the issues are and what your parents want. Then you can make a plan of action that accommodates everyone’s skill sets and schedules. This way, a long-distance caregiver would have responsibilities and know what to do. Always ensure that someone has permission to receive medical and financial information. Once the plan is finalized, keep each other updated on changes and issues.
Have an Emergency Plan
As a long-distance caregiver, you always need to have a plan as a backup in case your loved one has an emergency so that you can get there on short notice. Set up a support system of people who can handle the emergency while you’re gone. Whether helping with the pets, the kids, or your job, prepare a list of their contact information and responsibilities. Keep a bag packed with essential clothing, toiletries and so everything is handy and you don’t have to think about what to bring.
Along with distance, the caregiver should schedule conference calls with doctors or senior living community staff to get updates and information about their parent’s health. If you have a neighbor, he can regularly check on your parents and get updates from them. Phone calls and emails are another simple way to reach out; they can go a long way and keep your relationship strong.
Distance is the biggest challenge when caring for elderly parents. But this problem is manageable with team effort and strategic planning, and you can ensure that your aging loved one is getting the assistance they deserve.