From purchasing an electric mobility wheelchair to hiring nurses, providing care from a distance requires an effective care giving plan.
Living far away from a loved one in need of daily care is not always easy. From gathering vital information and coordinating services, to managing mobility issues and personal stress, long-distance caregivers face many logistical and emotional challenges.
If you're one of the more than seven million adult Americans providing care from a distance, you'll be relieved to know that there are many solutions available to help and support you in your caregiver role.
Getting Started as a Long-Distance Caregiver
As you assume your role as a long-distance caregiver, you'll need to establish an effective care giving plan. The following are just a few suggestions to help get started.
The many details of care giving can at first seem overwhelming. The way to solve this problem is to get organized right from the start.
- Develop a filing system for storing vital information and important documents
- Datebooks, wall calendars and/or bulletin boards are useful for keeping track of appointments and tasks
- Notebooks and spreadsheets can be ideal for logging emergency contacts, medications, insurance and financial details
Having this information in an easy format will be a tremendous help in the long run.
Make a Needs Assessment
Now it's time to formulate a care strategy. The first thing to do is to take inventory and assess the daily (and long term) care need of your loved one. Arrange for a visit and spend some time to see how daily activities are being handled, and ask these questions to get a clearer picture of what needs to be done.
- Has there been a recent change in your loved one's health or behavior? Is the home tidy or messy? Is personal hygiene adequate?
- Is there evidence of a decrease in mobility function? (Maybe it's time to begin the process for purchasing a power wheelchair for mobility assistance)
- Does there seem to now be a greater need for assistance with daily household tasks, finance management, or going to the doctor?
- Should some thought be given to hiring a geriatric care manager or in-home aide?
Don't Do It Alone
One of the most essential resources available to you as a caregiver is the help of others. As a long-distance caregiver, you will need to stay updated on your loved one's well-being when you can't be there in person.
One way to do this is to nurture connections through regularly scheduled phone calls and frequent emails to family members, friends, your loved one's neighbors, health care providers and other caregivers. You should also openly share concerns and delegate responsibilities with others in the family.
When discussing your loved one's finances or medical issues, make certain you get written permission from your loved one to consult with doctors, legal and financial advisers. And, when you arrange in-person meetings with these partners in care, take notes, and ask for advice and referrals.
As a caregiver, you don't have to do it alone.
For more information on family care giving resources, contact:
This article is for informational purposes and should not be considered medical advice.