According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, roughly 7 million adults are long-distance caregivers, typically providing care for aging parents who live more than an hour away. Long-distance caregiving can be challenging, especially when your loved one experiences a change in their health. Not being available to assist with the day-to-day may cause you to worry and feel guilty, wondering if their needs are being met. Fortunately, there are strategies and tips you can use to help keep your loved one as safe and healthy as possible – even from a distance.
What is Long-Distance Caregiving?
As a long-distance caregiver, you might not be on-hand to assist with daily activities, but the help you can provide from afar is still essential. Long distance caregiving includes things like:
- Providing support to a primary caregiver
- Researching and arranging services such as in-home care or assisted living
- Managing finances, medical bills, insurance, and other important records
It’s important to understand that your role as a long-distance caregiver will most likely become more involved over time as your loved one’s care needs increase. What might start out as phone calls to check-in once a month can evolve into hours of research coordinating services and managing finances, and regular trips to oversee care or provide respite for a primary caregiver.
Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when managing care from a distance:
Schedule family meetings for everyone to discuss their thoughts, feelings, responsibilities, and goals. Although disagreements may occur, it’s important that each family member’s opinions are included in developing and managing a care plan so nobody feels left out or taken advantage of. Frequent communication is necessary to keep everyone updated on any recent changes and how care requirements might be impacted.
Create files containing your loved one’s medical records, financial information, insurance policies, and legal documents. Having this information readily available is key when researching care options or if your loved one experiences a sudden change in health. Include a list of important contacts such as doctors, caregivers, and nearby friends.
Even from far away it’s important to stay closely involved in your loved one’s care. Regular communication with your loved one’s physicians and in-home caregivers or residential facility staff can keep you informed and updated of your loved one’s health and well being. It can also be helpful to research your loved one’s health conditions and recommended treatment options so you can best advocate for them.
Seek Professional Help
If your loved one’s needs become too great for a family caregiver to manage it may be necessary to hire a reputable in-home care agency or consider moving them to an assisted living facility. A local geriatric care manager or social worker can be a good resource to help navigate the best care options in you loved one’s area. You can also contact the local Area Agency on Aging for a list of resources.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.