Taking care of an older loved one will always have its challenges. However, if you are a long-distance caregiver, there is an added layer of stress. It’s natural to worry about caregiving from afar, but there are some things that you can do to help ease your mind.
Here are five tips for long-distance caregivers:
1. Make Contact Information Lists
If you have a senior loved one who needs regular care and who is far away, it’s important to make sure that you make it easy for them to locate contact information for anyone who may be able to assist them. This means making lists of phone numbers for any medical, legal, and financial professionals they may need to contact, as well as numbers of friends and family. Remember to include home, cell, and work numbers because an emergency can arise at any time during the day. It is also important to include at least one friend or neighbor who is close by, and who can assist your loved one quickly if needed. You should ensure that this list is easily accessible, perhaps by storing it on the refrigerator or by the bed. Make sure that you keep a copy of the list for yourself as well.
2. Organize Important Documents
When you are visiting your loved one, make sure that you organize and file all of their important documents somewhere where you both can access them. Make sure that all legal, financial, and insurance-related documents are stored safely, preferably in a fire/waterproof storage box. All forms of ID should have copies, and you should keep a copy with you as well in case of emergency. Also, be sure that all file names are legible and written in big print to make it easy for your loved one to locate certain documents on their own.
3. Check for a Mail Carrier Alert Program
In some communities around the country, the United States Postal Service has partnered with the National Association of Letter Carriers to provide an alert program for people who may require assistance and who live alone. Through this program, mail carriers are trained to notice signs that the homeowner may be in distress, such as mail or garbage piling up outside the home. Check with the local post office in your loved one’s neighborhood to see if the program is offered at that location.
4. Make Visits Productive
When you are able to visit your loved one, make sure you are getting the most out of that time. Make appointments with all necessary doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors who are managing different aspects of their life. If you are listed as Power of Attorney, you will want to stay up-to-date on any changes to these types of agreements.
In-person visits are also a good time to reach out to neighbors and friends to see if they have noticed any changes or signs of stress, and ensure that they are still comfortable being a point of contact. Check kitchen and bathroom cabinets to make sure that there is plenty of food and necessary medications. Remember to also plan fun and social activities. It’s possible that your loved one may not leave the house regularly, so while you are there, have some fun too!
5. Take Care of Yourself
Caregiving can cause a lot of stress. It’s important that you manage that stress properly so that you are in the best shape to give love and care to your older family member. Ask for help when you need it, and make sure that you keep a positive attitude, especially around your loved one. Positivity is contagious! Most importantly, exercise, eat right, and get a full night’s sleep. These are all the best ways to maintain your own health when you are giving care.
If you are a long-distance caregiver and concerned about your loved one who lives alone, you may want to consider hiring an in-home caregiving service such as 24/7 Nursing Care. We provide our clients with peace-of-mind through our professional caregiving and nursing services that we offer in the comfort of our clients’ own homes. If you have a loved one who may need help, whether short-term or long-term, contact us for more information on our in-home services.
Long-Distance Caregiving | Caregiver Center. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2017, from http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-long-distance-caregiving.asp?WT.mc_id=enews2017_06_12&utm_source=enews-aff-33&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enews-2017-06-12
20, 2. S., & 20, 2. S. (2010, September 20). Caregiving Resource Center: Tips for the Long-Distance Caregiver, Comm… Retrieved June 14, 2017, from http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-09-2010/pc_tips_for_long_distance_caregiver.html