Thoughts on caregiving from a distance
Long distance caregiving is defined as when you live at least an hour or more away from your loved one. It can be stressful and a huge responsibility to take on as a son, daughter, or family member. However, living far away from a loved doesn’t have to make you helpless in how you can take care of them as they age.
Each situation is different depending on the amount of care your loved one needs on a daily basis. First of all, it is important to establish what you will be taking care of. Consider reaching out to other family members to take care of certain components. You do not want one person taking on too many tasks and responsibilities. Dividing up the work will prevent burn out for all involved.
However, living far from them doesn’t mean you can't actively be involved.
Here a few thoughts on how to stay involved even from a distance.
Collect and make copies of important documents such as:
- Authorization to release health-care information
- Medical History
- Power of Attorney's
- Health Care Directives
- Important Financial Documents
- End-of-life Care/Estate Planning Documents
Another way you can help as a caregiver is to take over scheduling appointments
Scheduling these appointments enables you to get involved in your loved ones care. When you are with your loved one in person, take time to write out on a calendar the appointments for the next year. That way they can refer to the calendar when you are no longer there. Set a reminder for yourself in advance so you can call your loved one to remind them of their appointments.
Prevention is just as important as other measures. What if your loved one falls when they are home alone? Create a plan with your loved one so they are on the same page as you. Consider what you would do in this situation, would you call a neighbor to help? Would you hop on the next flight to be there? Be sure to take care of things in your life in preparation for a situation like this. Daily check-ins calls offer extra reassurance in these types of situations.
Again, divide up the work.
You are not in this alone, so it is crucial that you ask others for help as a caregiver. If you have other family members it may be helpful to discuss each other's strengths. Don't overwhelm yourself. Someone can take over scheduling appointments. Another can make sure to schedule a pick up for your loved one to go to the grocery store.
If you are an only child, look at local resources you might have or reach out to friends. If you can, consider hiring a part-time caretaker to take care of things you cannot be there for.
Being a caretaker is stressful. Being a long distance caretaker is even more stressful. There are limitations to what we can do from afar. But stay organized and confident. You can do this.
Here are a few additional resources