Are you caring for a loved one who lives far away from you? Even if it's only an hour's drive away, when there is a problem, every issue becomes magnified. And, when you can’t be there, anxiety and guilt are bound to set in.
Long distance caregiving presents special challenges. But there are things you can do to gain greater control, while better safeguarding your loved one. Here are some tips to help put you in a stronger position to provide loving care, even thousands of miles away.
- Phone numbers, papers, and everything in between: Arm yourself! Make sure you have phone numbers of all physicians, specialists and others who provide care for your loved one. Have a list of all medications and dosages. Make sure you have obtained Power of Attorney, to give you access to important medical records when you need them. The more information you have at your fingertips, the better prepared you will feel to deal with any issues that come your way.
- Develop a local “team”: Make the effort to connect with your loved one’s neighbors and others who are local to them. Ask them to be part of your information “support team”. They can be your eyes and ears, alerting you if something appears wrong. Your “team” will can also check up on your loved one in those anxious situations when you can't reach him or her by phone.
- Make use of available technology to stay connected: Make sure you stay abreast of all the great communications technology available. It’s changing all the time. There are special devices for phones and TVs that effectively turn them into interactive communications devices. And, many of them have easy-to-use interfaces for older adults.
- Consider hiring a local caregiver: Identify a few good local senior support services. You may only need someone to visit once a day, but there are some great caregiving organizations worth checking into.
- Reach out to local senior care communities: While your loved one may be living on his or her own now, the time may come when a memory care community makes sense. Reach out to local communities before you have a need. They can become a valuable resource for you. Some have seminars that you can attend when you're in town.
Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, in which we can just pick up and move our lives closer to those we love. And long distance caregiving isn’t easy. But there are things you can do now to help bridge the physical distance. Keeping information close at hand, developing relationships with local people you trust, and making use of technology will help give you a better sense of control. You will feel healthier, emotionally, and your loved one will benefit as well.