How to Handle Long-Distance Caregiving
If your loved one lives in a long-term care facility over an hour away from your home, it can be tricky to be the caregiver you had in mind. This is especially true if the rest of your family also lives far away. Determining when you’re needed and the best times to visit your loved one can be extremely difficult, as he or she may not admit to wanting extra support or may even feel guilty for your efforts to attend to him or her.
However, there are several ways that you can make long-distance caregiving less stressful and more rewarding for both you and your loved one. Keep these tips in mind to help you successfully care for him or her from miles away.
Take advantage of resources
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the first and most important thing to do is find the appropriate resources that are meant to help people in your situation and use them as much as you can. Not only do they provide added support and insight, but they can take a lot of weight off of a caregiver’s shoulders. For example, if your loved one has dementia and receives dementia care, it’s a good idea to contact your local Alzheimer’s Association helpline if you’re ever unsure of how to handle a situation. There are also online community resource finders that point caregivers straight to centers and resources within their specific locations.
The AARP also suggested creating a contact list that includes his or her doctors, neighbors and families or friends that live nearby. If your loved one is living at home, it may be beneficial to give a neighbor that you both know and trust an extra key to the house so that he or she can check in on your loved one regularly if needed. Local friends or neighbors may also be able to help out with grocery shopping or transportation.
Make the most of visits
Since you might not be able to see your loved one as much as you’d like due to distance, it’s crucial that you make each visit as productive as you can. This means reestablishing care needs and ensuring that he or she is happy with his or her current home. Make sure your loved one has things like healthy food and all of the items he or she needs on a daily basis. If your loved one is living at home with progressive conditions like Alzheimer’s, it’s essential that you check to ensure that he or she is still within a stage that makes independent living possible. Once 24/7 care is required, it may be time to gather your close family and find your loved one an Alzheimer’s care community.
Have important documents on hand
It’s always best to be prepared for a crisis. According to the AARP, to ensure that you’re properly prepared in case of an emergency, having all of your loved one’s medical documents on hand is important. This includes a list of the medication he or she is currently taking and notes – either yours or the doctor’s – on his or her condition. You should also have documents, such as his or her insurance, finance and relevant legal documents, on hand so you’re ready for anything.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s common for caregivers who live far away from their loved one to feel guilty for not being able to be there for him or her at all times. It’s important to remember that it’s not always possible to move. Just because you’re taking care of your loved one long distance doesn’t mean you’re not involved. Try reaching out to one of the various resources that provide long-distance caregivers support.