In-person caregiving can be difficult. Taking care of someone when you are doing it from a distance can feel downright overwhelming. The Mayo Clinic and the Family Caregiver Alliance/National Center on Caregiving have helpful suggestions if you’re just starting down that caregiving road, but don’t live nearby.
You’ll need information about your loved one’s medical condition, as well as any legal or financial issues. That information may include contact phone numbers (for such individuals as doctors and lawyers), insurance information, account numbers and so on. Hopefully, your loved ones will be able to provide you with this information before there is a crisis. The Family Caregiver Alliance website has a one-page document that will help you gather the information you need.
You should also learn about advance directives, before a medical condition makes it impossible to ask.
Schedule a Family Meeting
Family should meet in person, by phone or via Web chat. This is when you all need to air feelings, clarify goals and divide up duties. One person should summarize (in writing) decisions made, then distribute them after the meeting. You may or may not want to include your loved one in this decision-making process. Try to avoid placing blame – the meeting’s focus should be on care issues.
Talk to Professionals
Even though you don’t live nearby, you can contact local service-providers for help. Social service agencies, for example, can offer answers about meal delivery, personal care, in-home aides, support groups and even financial assistance. These professionals are ready to help make caregivers’ lives easier, while making the lives of those who are ill as comfortable as possible.
Ask for Help
In addition to speaking with professionals, stay in touch with your loved one’s friends and neighbors. You might ask them to check in with him or her regularly, then contact you if they see changes or safety problems.
Try to Set Aside the Guilt.
Many long-distance caregivers feel guilty about not being near their loved ones – that they’re not doing enough or spending adequate time with the person who needs care. You may find it helpful to join a local support group for caregivers. Not only could you benefit from their advice, but you’ll also realize you’re not alone.
Share Your Thoughts and Insights With Us
If you are or have been a long-distance caregiver, we’d love you to share your story with us. What advice would you give? Please share your success stories and questions below.