If you know your ageing parent needs caregiving assistance, but you live a thousand miles away, it may seem difficult for you to make a real difference. However, you don’t need to give up your job and move to their city in order to make a useful contribution to their support. Here are some tips for long-distance care giving.
1. Communicate frequently with family members
Call your parents frequently to talk. They will appreciate that caring connection, and it will also help you to get a sense for how they are really doing. Talk to your siblings regularly, so that you can all keep each other informed about how your parents are doing. Quite often, one of you will have information that the others don’t, so talking regularly gives you all the best-rounded picture of what’s happening. If there are decisions to be made regarding care options, these conversations with parents and siblings are also an opportunity to discuss that.
2. Provide support to the primary caregiver
If one of your siblings lives in the same town as your parents, they may find themselves thrust into the role of primary caregiver, whether that is what they wanted or not. Don’t let them feel like they need to carry the burden all on their own. Call them from time to time, and find out how they are doing. You might discover ways that you can help from afar. At the very least, you will be able to offer them some emotional support and make sure they don’t feel like they’re left on their own to handle everything.
3. Take over vacation support
When the primary caregiver needs a vacation, a great thing to do is to offer to step in and fill that role while they are taking a much needed break. You get to spend some time with your parents, which can be wonderful for both you and them. You also make a real contribution to their care, and to your sibling’s mental health.
4. Handle records and paperwork
Somebody needs to handle record keeping about your parent’s insurance, bank and investment accounts, medical treatments, care requests, and legal forms like wills and trusts. You might want to get started when you are visiting your parents, so that you can go through the files together with them, and start consolidating the information you need. Once that is done, however, you can manage a lot of this from afar, acting as a central repository for all of this critical information.
5. Research medical conditions and care options
Learn as much as you can about the medical issues that your parents are facing. Find out what you can expect over the coming months and years, and what treatment options are available. See if there are questions you need to ask their doctors. Find out if there are any steps that you can take which might slow the progression of the disease or make it more manageable. Be sure to talk this all over with your parents and your siblings, too. The better informed everyone is about what is coming, the better you will all be able to cope with it.
6. Don’t take the blame on yourself
Many people feel guilty for having to leave their ageing parents and move away to a different city or country. It’s not a good idea to take all that blame and put it on your shoulders. You’re doing everything you can to be close to your parents, and although your best way of supporting them is through financial means, you could still make some time to visit at least once a month. Join a caregiving support group, check the web for long-distance care-giving tips and learn from others.
Long-distance caregiving is particularly difficult if your parent suffers from a terminal illness like dementia or Alzheimer’s. Neurological care may be required, and that can only be provided in specialized facilities. Nursing homes and hospices are solutions you have to consider because if you’re at a long distance, you won’t be able to care for them and go to their homes every time an accident happens. Aging parents must be properly cared for, and when kids live miles apart, sometimes the best alternative is to consider professional care-giving.
– By Edward Francis and Foresthc.com!
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