A long-distance caregiver is someone who lives an hour or more away from the friend or loved one whom they assist. While living nearby is ideal, it isn’t always possible or practical due to one’s finances, job situation, or current living arrangements. However, there are many ways assist a loved one from afar.
- Coordinate care. To ensure that your loved one is getting the best care possible, it’s important to have a meeting with your loved one and all family members who may be available to help with care. This type of meeting is best in person, as you can easily hold one another accountable for who will perform various tasks. Some may be able to offer more financial assistance than hands-on assistance, and some may have more free hours to offer care or transportation services. Ensure that you are not taking on the responsibilities of care alone.
- Meet the neighbors. Reach out to your loved one’s neighbors and local friends and get to know them. Make sure that they know how to contact you in case there is an issue or emergency. If your loved one is part of a church or other local community organization, see if there is anyone available who could check in on your loved one from time to time.
- Explore senior living communities. Senior living communities today can accommodate stays of many years or just a few weeks. Tour your local senior living communities to find one that’s right for your loved one. If you are unavailable for a few weeks, see if you can arrange short-term care at the facility. This may also lead to a longer-term relationship as your loved one ages. Be sure you know your options.
- Plan your visits. While visiting your loved one should be an enjoyable occasion, you should also ensure that it’s productive. Work with your loved one to make a list of things they need assistance with while you are there, whether it’s cleaning up the garage, troubleshooting the television, or going for a grocery run. Make your own checklist, such as checking to make sure that they are taking their medication, or looking for signs of absentmindedness such as accumulated trash or bills that have not been mailed.
- Prepare for emergencies. Know what your plan is in case of an emergency. Ensure that you have all of your loved one’s medications and medical information – such as insurance cards and current doctors – all in one place. If you are employed, check your company’s policies about Family and Medical Leave, and prepare to take unpaid leave under this provision if necessary to assist your loved one.