Every day, people are faced with the task of caring for a sick, disabled or aging loved one. Statistics indicate 44 million adults in the U.S. provide care for someone over the age of 50. It’s a common misconception that caregiving can only happen when everyone resides within close proximity. Actually, a large percentage of family caregivers are also long-distance caregivers.
Long-distance caregiving is a unique and challenging situation where the caregiver lives long distance–typically an hour or more away–from the family member who needs their help and support. This occurs more than you might think, and takes a great deal of planning and organization. Research from AARP suggests that nearly 1/4 of people caring for elderly relatives do so from a distance.
Tips for Long-Distance Caregiving
Create a caregiving team. This includes individuals local to the relative; people who can check in on them when you’re not in town. Neighbors, friends, church members, and when necessary in-home health care, are all important components to a caregiving team. Don’t forget about yourself…Arrange for family and trusted friends to help you maintain things at home while you’re away.
Consider hiring an elderly care manager. This is an individual experienced in managing all aspects of senior in-home care, including arranging qualified help, supervising health care services, assessing financials and deciding on housing options. An elderly care manager helps evaluate your loved one’s situation and guides you through important decisions.
Take advantage of technology. Even if your older loved one isn’t comfortable using a smartphone or tablet, it doesn’t mean you can’t utilize apps for your own organization and planning purposes. Many apps are free, or cost a small one-time fee. They can log pertinent information, invite friends to help, create shareable lists, give medication refill reminders, etc.
Don’t forget about yourself. It’s easy to become stressed especially when you are far away. Make time for what’s important to you whether it’s reading, volunteering, exercising, socializing or simply relaxing. Don’t neglect your own health and keep regularly scheduled doctor visits. Look into caregiver support groups. It’s also possible your place of employment offers caregiver benefits like flextime or job sharing to free some hours for caregiving duties.
Long-distance caregiving is a team effort—not one person can possibly do it all. For assistance in creating a caregiving team, contact AT Home Care today at (804) 359-3400.