Managing Caregiving at a Distance
A long distance caregiver is anybody who plays a role in providing support for someone at a distance.
If you have an aging loved one who needs home health care services and you do not live close by, then you are presented with a unique set of challenges not shared by caregivers who live close to their loved ones. Just because you live far away does not necessarily mean that you are free from the stresses of caregiving. In fact, not being nearby can make matters trickier if you have to be heavily involved in organizing care for them. For instance, you may have to manage money, arrange doctor’s appointments, and help your loved one understand their health insurance and benefits. Not only that, not being physically present can often be emotionally draining because you cannot be in the same place with someone you love during a time of need.
In this blog, we hope to explain some of the roles a long distance caregiver assumes and give you some tips to help you balance the challenges that come with this role.
What to expect: Providing care for someone can mean many different things depending on the level of care they need. If your loved one is unable to live life normally without some form of homecare, then you may have to contact a nurse registry or agency to schedule professional caregivers to visit them. Depending on whether you have siblings and if they live nearby your loved one, you may also have to become involved in managing medical bills, talking to insurance companies, and scheduling grocery deliveries. Many of these tasks can take up a substantial amount of time, and you may be interrupted at work to handle more important moments. Sometimes you may not know what to expect, but, as time goes on, you will learn about the resources available to help you on your caregiving journey.
Learn about your loved one’s condition: If your loved one has a degenerative neurological disorder or is experiencing common symptoms associated with aging, it is important to know what to expect. Anticipating challenges can often help you respond better and manage your stress levels. For example, if your aging parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, then there are numerous challenges to face as the illness progresses. Preparing yourself for the hard facts can help you respond to certain events with more soundness of mind, even when these challenges can often induce great amounts of stress. Additionally, learning more about your loved one’s condition will help you learn about the resources that exist to help them, giving you more control over the situation to find help when necessary.
Talking to family members: If you have siblings, you may have to organize a meeting time (or a phone conference) to speak about the kind of roles you want to adopt with respect to caring for your loved one. Sometimes you can split up different roles which can alleviate much of the burden from one person. For instance, if one sibling has more free time to make phone calls during business hours, then this could potentially help another family member if they are tied up at work during those same times. Or if a family member lives near your loved one, maybe they can visit more often and look out for problems. A family meeting will help everyone be on the same page about the best way to help. This will also allow you to find out everyone’s (including your) strengths and weaknesses. If there are certain aspects of caregiving that you think you can perform the best, then try to take those duties on and allow other family members handle what they can do best.
Keep a record: As you become more involved in caregiving, you will need to keep track of various contact information as the network of resources on which your loved relies grows. Track any changes in their condition because you will likely need to convey new information to professional caregivers or relevant parties, so they are also informed. Other information you want to keep track of can include legal information, medical evaluations, banking account information, and personal email addresses. Depending on how involved you are in managing your loved one’s affairs, these records will make your role as a caregiver a lot easier.
Dealing with guilt: Being far away can often make you feel like you are not doing enough. This feeling is a result of not being in direct control and being unable to be present physically. To alleviate this guilt, recognize that you are doing everything you can given your situation; and feeling overly guilty is not a productive way to manage your current situation. You can only do so much at a distance and, if you deeply care for your loved one, you are likely doing everything you can.
Communicate! This rule applies to everybody involved in caregiving, whether from far away or close by. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need help, then you have to communicate your feelings to a sibling, a counselor, or a third party who can provide assistance. If you are frustrated with a family member for not following through on their promises to help, you have to communicate with them exactly what the problem is. Conversely, if you feel you are unable to follow through with a promise, you should reach out to others involved to let them know. The root of most conflicts results from a lack of communication.
You should also keep in touch with your loved one as much as possible if you can. Checking in on them will help you stay up to date on their daily situation so you can respond to any emergencies if they arise.
Caregiving at a distance comes with many responsibilities. Fortunately, resources exist to give your loved one the assistance they need. If you are interested in ElderCare at Home and learning more about what we can do to help, call 888-285-0093 or visit our website.