3 Tips for Successful Long Distance Caregiving


Are you caregiving while living in a different city or state from your family member? It's estimated that 7 million family caregivers live an hour or more away from the person they are caring for.

3 Tips for Successful Long distance caregiving has its own unique set of challenges. Even the simplest task like filling a prescription takes careful planning and coordination. It can be difficult to get a clear picture of your parent's needs.

It's important to get organized before an elder care crisis hits. Here are 3 tips for being a successful long distance caregiver:

  1. Identify local caregiving resources.
  2. Know what's really going on with your parent.
  3. Use visits to look for changes in your parent's well-being.

Tip # 1: Identify local caregiving resources

Use a visit to your parent to connect with local caregiving resources. Most counties produce a local senior care resource guide.  Pick up a copy to take home and a copy for your parent.

If you are not visiting soon, you can locate elder care information via the internet.  Search official state and city websites using keywords like senior or aging to find local elder care resources.

Tip #2 Know what's really going on with your parent

Regular visits, when you can, are the best way to assess your parent's elder care situation for yourself. Phone calls are a good way of staying in touch with your parent but they can't tell the whole story.  Ask a neighbor, family friend or relative to be your elder care eyes and ears and alert you when your parent's needs change. With your parent's permission form a relationship with his/her doctor.

Tip#3 Use visits to look for changes in your parent's well-being

Each visit is an opportunity to complete your own mini elder care evaluation. Watch for:

  • Reduced short term memory
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Increased clutter including unpaid bills
  • Difficulty walking, driving or climbing stairs
  • Reduced energy and mood

Any changes should be discussed with your parent and your parent's doctor.

Successful long distance caregiving requires gathering elder care resources before a crisis and keeping in touch with your parent's changing needs through visits and a local connection who keeps you informed about your parent's needs.

Are you a long distance caregiver?  Share successful strategies that you have used to help your parent.

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--Janice Wallace


2 Responses

  1. I am doing this evaluation at the present time. My father died unexpectedly from a fall. As I spend time with my mother, I realize that her memory is waning, she is not as meticulous in her record keeping. Everything I do now will be to make sure that as a long distance caregiver, I am prepared and my mother is monitored by everyone that has interactions with her. However, I want to walk the line between smothering her and keeping her dignity and independence as long as it does not risk her health and safety.
  2. Linda, You are right it is a fine line between keeping informed and smothering your mother. Sometimes seniors see giving up a little autonomy as the beginning of a negative process. What ever you can do to convince your mother that the changes you propose are for your peace of mind and her convenience will be the most successful. The stress of her grief may also be making her memory worse. You are very wise to set up a supportive structure now before there is a crisis.

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