Advice for Long Distance Caregivers
Living hundreds or even thousands of miles away, you may wonder how you can go about caring for elderly parents when they need some extra support. Long-distance caregiving isn’t without challenges, but many families discover it can be accomplished with great success.
These long-distance caregiving tips will show you how you can set up your family for a positive experience and feel better equipped to take on caring for aging parents:
Designate a primary caregiver, then delegate.
Caregiving doesn’t have to be a solo venture if there are siblings or others who are eager to help, but it does often benefit the entire family if one person takes on the role of primary caregiver. This means doctors and others involved in your loved one’s care have a single point of contact who is well prepared to answer questions and provide helpful insight.
While one person serves as a clearinghouse of information, others can play important roles. For example, someone who’s good with money can help keep finances on track and another who loves to shop can keep tabs on a parent’s wardrobe needs, while everyone shares in making regular visits and calls.
Secure official permission to lend a hand.
Many of the tasks you take on as a long-distance caregiver could require you to act on your parent’s behalf from afar, and that may mean you need legal permission to do so, especially when it comes to medical and financial information and decision-making. If you need to secure a power of attorney, be sure you understand what’s covered and what’s not, then secure any additional authorizations necessary to provide the support your parent needs.
Develop a good record-keeping system.
As a long-distance caregiver, keeping track of your loved one’s care and needs can require a lot of brain power, especially if there are multiple diagnoses, medications, and care providers involved. Maintaining a notebook or online documentation of contacts, medication management lists, notes from doctor’s visits and phone calls, etc., will help you manage everything more efficiently.
Develop a relationship with your parent’s care team.
The players involved in your parent’s care will vary quite a bit depending on their health and the level of support they need for daily living. Knowing the people involved in your parent’s care, from home care aides to staff at the offices of your parent’s doctor and dentist, will help ensure you have a good handle on their needs. If your parent is receiving long-term care or living in a senior living community, be sure to ask how you can best communicate with the team there.
Establish rituals you can look forward to together.
An important part of long-distance caregiving is providing emotional support and reassurance to your loved one, who may be feeling lonely, scared, or otherwise troubled. Even if you can’t be there in person to fix those problems, you can give your parent and yourself a treat by arranging a weekly visit by phone or video chat to check in, talk about what’s on your minds, and keep the loving connection strong.
Plan your visits for maximum efficiency.
When you’re only in town for a short period of time, you’ll have plenty of ground to cover. Start planning well ahead of time so you’ll have more flexibility scheduling appointments with doctors, financial advisors, lawyers, and anyone else involved in looking out for your parent’s well-being. Remember to leave plenty of space on the calendar so you can spend quality time together catching up on the family news, reminiscing, and enjoying each other’s company.
We Look Forward to Calling You Family
At our Springpoint communities across New Jersey and Delaware, we recognize the important role families play in their loved ones’ care. Whether you’re a long-distance caregiver or living just across town, we consider you a partner in ensuring your parent is enjoying the greatest quality of life possible. Contact us to learn more about making your family part of the Springpoint family.