Do you live an hour or more away from an older family member who needs care if so you are certainly not alone between five…

Try: Do you live an hour or more away from an older family member who needs care if so you are certainly not alone between five and seven million people in the united states are long distance caregivers cgs bridging this mileage gap when trying to provide care for a loved one is one of the many challenges cgs are facing today additional complexities that long distance cg cg’s may have to deal with you may speak with the Care recipient (cr) daily on the phone but if something he or she says makes you uneasy you can’t just hop in the car and drive across town to make sure everything is ok accompanying the cr to medical appointments doesn’t just require that you take a morning or afternoon off from work in many cases you will need to be gone for more than a day the simple task of going to medical appointments is further compounded by the expenses that you incur in traveling to and from the cr’s place of residence in some cases you may be the sole cg with no other friends or family members living near the cr to provide help and support you may worry about the crs eating habits ability to drive a car safely or getting help in an emergency however there is no one nearby who can check on the cr to see how he or she is doing in some cases you may have a family member who lives closer to the cr who is shouldering all of the hands-on caregiving you may feel guilty about not being able to be able to offer more support or respite care for the family member helpful things that you can do as a long distance cg despite all of the unique challenges that long distance caregiving presents there are some things that you can do to help the cg it is better to focus on the positive things that you can do to help the cr rather than get frustrated and upset over the things that you can’t here are some examples make frequent phone calls when you call the cr on the phone there are questions that you can ask to uncover problems without putting him or her on the defensive and causing you frustration here are a few suggestions ask for specifics and updates for any known health conditions that the cr has this may make it easier for the cr to open up about any new symptoms or conditions that he or she is experiencing ask about activities or hobbies that the cr regularly participates in and make note of any change in these has the cr traded in golfing for staying at home with a good book have the cr given up going out to dinner with friends for crosswords and television this could suggest that the cr has physical challenges that make it harder for him or her to get out and about ask about how the cr’s friends are doing if the cr says that he or she hasn’t seen many friends lately this could mean that the cr is depressed and living in isolation ask about what home repairs the cr has made recently or may need to do in the future failure to keep current on home maintenance and upkeep could also be a sign of physical challenges ask about how the car is holding up or how good the gas mileage is this could provide an indicator of how much driving the cr is doing or not doing not getting out very much could be the result of new physical limitations depression and so on in-person visits even though you cannot visit on a frequent basis due to the distance involved there are things that you can do when you do visit to help out the cr you need to make every minute count when you visit since you aren’t there as often as you would like in addition if your visit is short you need to provide as much help as you can while you are there here are some suggestions check to see if there is ample food in the refrigerator and whether or not it is fresh throw out any food items that are beyond their expiration dates if there isn’t enough food on hand plan meals with the cr make up a grocery list and arrange for a trip to the store to stock up on needed items are there dirty dishes in the sink is there food on the counter or spilled elsewhere in the house if so help the cr do the dishes and clean up the kitchen dining room and so on is the cr’s appetite good during meals if not try to find out the reason why and decide on an appropriate intervention does the house or the yard need upkeep or are major repairs needed if so make arrangements to get the needed work done are there piles of mail stacked around the living quarters that are unopened if so help the cr get caught up on processing mail paying bills on time and set up a filing system is the dirty laundry stacking up if so help the cr do the laundry if there is a washer and dryer in the cr’s living quarters encourage the cr to do laundry throughout the week rather than let it pile up are there personal appearance or hygiene issues if so work with the cr to resolve them make sure the cr has the necessary tools and products to maintain hygiene encourage the cr to include personal hygiene in the daily routine are there dents or scratches on the car if so you need to find out how they got there you may need to observe the cr driving to assess his or her abilities it is best to do this in a subtle manner you may need to have an honest discussion with the cr about limiting or suspending the driving privileges additional things that you can do as a long distance caregiver provide emotional support for the cr through regular phone calls cards letters e mails and so on help the cr with finances by offering to take over the bill paying process make arrangements for housekeeping or transportation services to appointments and social outings schedule the cr’s appointments and provide a reminder phone call you could also consider having an advocate accompany the cr to appointments if you are not able to be there yourself include the cr in your family activities as much as possible through phone calls e mail photos and home movies set up a network of friends and neighbors who can check periodically on the cr and keep you informed if they notice anything that may cause concern communicate with the doctors or other professionals who are handling the cr’s medical and financial affairs set up an emergency plan in case you receive a call that requires an immediate response include contact information of the individuals who can be there immediately to assess and respond to any crisis situation when you do visit the cr make sure you set aside quality time to relax and enjoy each other’s company references

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Categories: Caregiver Needs&Support

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Keywords: Caregiver not in the area caregiver lives far away

*This information is listed as a Fact Sheet and is not explicitly medically licensed

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