Strategies to Manage Long-Distance Caregiving
We live in a very mobile society where family members don’t always live in the same town or even the same state. According to the National Institute on Aging, approximately seven million Americans are long-distance caregivers. Identifying strategies for long-distance caregiving will make the challenges of caring for aging parents or loved ones more manageable. Below are tips for long-distance caregiving:
- Establish Support Contacts in Your Aging Parents’ Community – Make a list of family, friends and neighbors’ phone numbers and addresses. Ask if you can check in with them to find out how your loved one is doing. They may also be willing to stop by your loved one’s home for regular visits.
- Stay in Touch With Your Parents – Keep in regular touch with your loved one by phone, letters, and e-mail. Record any changes you sense in his or her personality or ability to function day by day.
- Make Observations During Visits – When you are able to visit your parents, pay attention to any changes in grooming, eating, or social activities. Look for changes in the way he or she manages money, cleans, shops, and gets around.
- Keep Track of Important Information – Find out where your parents keep important documents such as his or her insurance policies, bank account numbers, investments, living will and power of attorney (for legal, financial, and health care purposes). It’s also beneficial to have a list of physicians that your relative is seeing, and any hospitals or clinics that are involved in his or her medical care, and any medications he or she is taking.
- Identify Community Resources and Professionals – Research local area agencies on aging, senior centers, churches, synagogues, or other volunteer organizations about available resources for seniors. There are several options for aging parents who need additional assistance.
- Involve Your Parent – Allow your parents to retain as much decision-making ability as possible. Remember that your primary objective is to help your loved one to fulfill his/her needs, not to take over your relative’s life. In some situations, when your loved one is unable to make decisions, you may need to do so on his/her behalf.
- Take Time for Yourself – Caregiving can have an emotional and physical toll on caregivers, especially when done long-distance. Make sure you are eating right, getting enough rest, exercising regularly and keeping up with your own medical needs.
By taking the time to address these long-distance caregiving issues, your family will have the much-needed sense of security, comfort and hopefully the ability to create new memories with your aging loved ones for many years to come!
Article Provided by:
Rob MacNaughton, Right at Home
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