10 Tips for Long-Distance Caregivers

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Long-distance caregivers take on many important roles in the lives of those who need their help. Senior Care can be stressful to navigate on its own. With the additional factor of distance, time and logistics can have a larger impact on how loved one’s care for the care receiver.

Long-distance caregivers often balance the demand of multiple households, work, and daily life as a whole. We compiled ten expert tips to help you take your loved one’s care one step at a time and provide information on assisting and supporting those you care for at a distance.

1. Thoroughly assess your loved one’s care needs.
Many times, care needs can include a wide spectrum from simple daily tasks like laundry and other household chores to more complex factors like estate planning and liquidation or relocation.

2. Create a communication plan.
Open communication can make the subtle difference in knowing if your loved one’s needs are increasing or if alternative care is needed. Listen actively to what is shared with you by neighbors, medical care professionals, friends or the care receiver themselves.

3. Create a library of documents essential to your loved one’s care.
The library of essentials should include basic important documents like insurance cards and regularly taken medications as well as complex documentation like wills and financial information. Read more about this topic in Long-Distance Caregiver Checklist: Documents to Create & Keep.

4. Understand any expenses associated with providing long-distance care.
According to the MetLife Mature Market Institute study, “Long-distance caregivers spend an average of $392 per month on travel and total out-of-pocket expenses.” Set aside time and save money for unexpected visits to help your loved one.

5. Schedule family or care support meetings to discuss major decisions and plan for the future.
The more prepared you are with health, financial, and emergency plans, the better you can enjoy peace of mind for your loved one’s long-distance care. Keeping open communication with family and others who support the care receiver helps ease the burden of last minute or solitary decision making.

6. Stay in tune with household maintenance and upkeep.
Become comfortable with gauging the need for repairs or accessibility updates that come along with aging-in-place. If household demands go beyond what your support system or a hired professional can complete in the home, prepare to help your loved one make a decision on downsizing or relocation.

7. Research as much as you can about your family member’s medical condition, treatment, and care.
According to the National Institute on Aging, “[t]his can help you understand what is going on, anticipate the course of an illness, prevent crises, and assist in healthcare management. It can also make talking with the doctor easier.”

8. Create a plan for your upcoming visit.
Use visits as a moment to spend quality time with your loved one AND gather information
for care decisions. Make the most of your time and assess mobility, memory, or any other factor that may change care needs.

9. Take time to care for you!
The stress of caring for those we love can affect us physically, emotionally and mentally. The guilt of long-distance caregiving can have a strong impact on your daily life. Take time to relax and learn to cope with the emotional side of it all. Read more about this topic in Managing Long-Distance Caregiver Guilt.

10. Recognize when to seek out expert help.
Caring for a senior long-distance will have limitations. Be realistic about the quality of care you want your loved one to receive and seek experts to fill in the gaps of your limitations. In many cases large tasks like senior relocation or downsizing is a better handled by knowledgeable experts, like those within the Caring Transitions system, able to plan and organize a move from start to finish.

With approximately 34 million Americans actively providing care for an older parent, about 15% live one or more hours away. There is a large amount of information to help ease the stress of long distance caregiving for those 5.1 million. Tips like these, and more, can help simplify the way you provide care for a senior loved one.

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