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Tips for long-distance caregiving

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    Staying connected is important when caring for a person who lives far away.

    Staying connected is important when caring for a person who lives far away.

    Job opportunities, family obligations and more can prevent people from living close to their parents or loved ones. As exciting as moving to a new location is, it can prove difficult when you need to care for your loved one separated by the miles. Though long-distance caregiving is different than caring for someone down the street, there are some strategies to make it easier:

    Recruit help
    It’s not possible to be available all of the time, even if you live near your loved one. It’s beneficial to recruit help from other family members, friends and neighbors who live closer than you do. According to Care.com, many religious and community organizations also have members who can visit your loved one if you need someone to spend time with him or her when family is unavailable. If your family has the resources to do so, you can also hire a nurse to visit a few times a week.

    While you may not be able to spend as much face-to-face time as you might like, you can take care of tasks over the phone or online, like making appointments and paying bills.

    “Make sure emergency contacts are current.”

    Always be prepared
    When you live far away, you should always have a plan in case you need to visit at the last minute. Know how much time off you have available at work in case a situation causes you to leave in the middle of the week. Make sure that any in-town caregivers have your phone number so they can keep you updated on any changing conditions. Make sure that all emergency contacts are current on any necessary forms.

    Everyone who is taking part in the caregiving should be on the same page when it comes to appointments and responsibilities. Consider creating a spreadsheet or Google document that everyone can access. This way, all of the necessary tasks are laid out, while also allowing you all to communicate with each other in a single place.

    Keep in touch
    Keeping in touch is the best way to contribute to his or her care from where you live. Determine which method (phone, email, social media or texting) is best for you both, and check in as often as you both feel comfortable. During these conversations, find out how he or she is doing and ask if there’s anything that you can do to help. If he or she has hearing loss, consider a CapTel captioned telephone. This phone shows them captions of what you are saying so you can be confident they are catching every word. Look into technologies like FaceTime or Skype to be able to see each other over the Internet. Be sure to set it up as simply as possible to make it easy for everyone involved to use.

    “Stay in contact with other caregivers as well.”

    You’ll also want to stay in contact with other caregivers, whether they’re family, friends or hired medical professionals. It’s beneficial to schedule a call every week or every few weeks, depending on your loved one’s needs and condition.

    Don’t forget about yourself
    Long-distance caregivers can develop feelings of guilt for not being more readily available. You need to remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and realize your efforts are appreciated. Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this time, too. Seek help from a support group or simply take time out of your busy schedule to do something you enjoy.


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