Long Distance Caregiving - December 2016

Caring for a loved one who lives far away can be challenging. It creates an entirely new set of obstacles related to caregiving.  Concerns about your loved one’s safety, nutrition, health and care may be overwhelming. Long distance caregivers often report feeling guilty and anxious because they cannot be there often to see how their loved one is doing.  Staff of the Caring Workplace and Senior Solutions can help in these situations.  Long distance caregivers may hesitate to contact our office because their loved ones are out of the area so they are not aware assistance is available, but we can offer support and share resources that may be beneficial to your family regardless of the distance. There are also tips we can share to help. 

If your loved one lives alone, it is important to monitor their ability to manage various daily tasks.  Are you able to answer questions such as: what is the condition of the living environment, are bills being paid, are they eating regular meals, are they safely driving, are they maintaining personal care routines?  If not, it is important to consult the person’s doctor, neighbors, family members and friends who may see your loved one more routinely and can answer these questions, which indicate if outside services may be needed.

Establishing an informal support system in your loved ones community can help ensure the person’s safety and give you peace of mind.  Family members and friends can provide companionship. Neighbors can check regularly on your loved one. Ask if they will remain alert to anything unusual. Community organizations often provide companion services in addition to other supports such as transportation and chore services.  Make a list of those who may be able to help, including friends, neighbors, and religious connections if available. 

Few long-distance caregivers are able to spend as much time with their loved one as they would like, so it is important to make the most of each visit. The key is to make periodic visits and use your time effectively. To obtain a check list of things to look for and accomplish during such visits, please contact your ElderCare Specialist at any time. 

Caregiving issues can often ignite or magnify family conflicts, especially when people cope differently with caregiving responsibilities.  Family members may deny what is happening, resent you for living far away or believe you are not helping enough. There may also be disagreement about financial and care decisions.  It is important not to let this overshadow getting your loved one all the support they need.  To minimize conflicts, try to acknowledge these feelings and work through them so the entire family is united on their goals. 

Information obtained from the National Institute on Aging.  For additional support contact your Caring Workplace Eldercare Specialist, Heather Spindler at 314-802-5106 or via email at hspindler@standrews1.com