Although it seems like a simple concept, long-distance caregiving is quite a dynamic role. Caregivers take on much more than a simple daily phone call, possibly also acting as their loved one’s personal financial manager to make sure their money is being spent wisely and safely. They can also be the point of contact for family or friends who live closer to their loved one and can provide care. Even this is only the surface of how deep long-distance caregiving duties go, and the deeper into managing the logistical aspects of a loved one’s life, the more exhausting and emotionally trying it can be.
However, according to AgingCare.com and the millions of other long-distance caregivers, you are not alone. Approximately seven million adults remotely care for aging parents who live an hour or more away. Long-distance caregivers can redistribute the weight of their caregiving duties by connecting with local community members to strengthen their loved one’s care network.
Michael Rambarose, President and CEO of Whitney Center, a Life Care community in Hamden, CT, says that, although long-distance caregiving can be challenging, it doesn’t have to be. “Being a long-distance caregiver is rewarding because you are making sure your loved one is happy and healthy, even from an hour or so away. This shows true dedication and commitment. Long-distance support can be made easier by actively keeping in contact with your loved one’s primary caregivers, organizing visits and activities and being there for your loved one outside your caregiving duties.”
What Are the Challenges and How Do I Overcome Them?
Long-distance caregiving comes with its share of challenges, but with the right information and approach, you can greatly decrease the uncertainties and improve both you and your loved one’s lives.
Consider these tips on how to make long-distance caregiving easier for everyone involved.
- Be in the Know.
Before anything else, it’s a good idea to become well acquainted with both your loved one’s illness and their current treatment plan. Knowing the ins and outs of his or her situation better prepares you to anticipate disease progression, assist in managing their symptoms and prevent foreseeable crises because you’ll know what to tell the doctor. Being able to act before problems escalate will not only make your loved one more comfortable but also establish a greater trust between you.
- Find Resources.
AgingCare.com suggests getting a phone book to help map out essential resources in your loved one’s area. Yelp and some simple Google searches can also link you to helpful, easy-to-find resources that are often accompanied by insightful customer reviews. Keep in mind, though, that not every review is completely reliable, but at the same time, it’s reassuring to know someone else had a positive experience with the service or company you are considering for your own loved one.
- Plan Visits.
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of being a long-distance caregiver is actually visiting your loved one. Though you may live only an hour away, family and work responsibilities can make it challenging to find a few spare hours. It’s important to plan your visits beforehand to avoid wasting precious time trying to decide on something to do when you get there. Instead, ask your loved one if they have any errands to run or places they need to go. Although these may seem like trivial tasks, doing them together can make it more fun and enjoyable.
- Spend Actual Time Together.
When you get the chance to visit your loved one, try to actually spend time with them outside of your caregiving role. It may be easy to focus the conversation on his or her illness, but it’s even more rewarding and beneficial to take both of your minds off caregiving by watching a film together, chatting over coffee, breaking out a classic board game or just going for a drive through town. Getting out of the house and out of your caregiving disposition can do wonders for both you and your loved one’s mood.
- Establish Long-Distance Contact.
This can mean anything from installing a landline phone in your loved one’s home to teaching them how to use a cell phone. Having a dedicated connection between you will give not only you and your loved one but also everyone in your care network peace of mind, knowing your loved one is always reachable. It’s important, however, to be aware that such connectivity could result in overly frequent calls from your loved one, so weigh your options and find a way to cope with the number of calls.
“Providing your loved one with the care you know they deserve is something distance can’t inhibit,” says Rambarose. “Whitney Center shares your passion for ensuring seniors receive the utmost care, whether they reside in our gorgeous community or in your capable hands. As a Life Care community, we know what it takes to devote time and love to someone who deserves nothing less than perfection.”
If you would like any more information, tips or suggestions on long-distance caregiving, contact us today!
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At Whitney Center, you’ll find a distinguished senior living community where residents do what they love. Located in Hamden, Connecticut, Whitney Center combines all the cultural, educational and historical charms of the Greater New Haven area with the intricate details of daily life for active seniors. Whitney Center is a Life Care community, offering not just an unparalleled independent living lifestyle, but a full continuum of care services as well, including assisted living, rehabilitation, skilled nursing care and memory care. Whitney Center even offers a home-based long-term care program, Thrive at Home, which connects seniors to the services they need to live well in their own home.
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We believe that remaining engaged and striving for excellence builds a more meaningful life. That’s why residents experience a host of services and amenities, events and cultural opportunities and wellness programs designed to foster endless growth and personalized living. Backed by our first-rate hospitality and philosophy of continuous improvement, our residents are free to travel, learn, volunteer, set new goals and create the life they want to live.
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At Whitney Center, residents live in the midst of cultural arts and education and dignified connections to the greater community. Seniors thrive in pursuit of what brings them joy, with unlimited opportunities to create and contribute. And, with the confidence in quality care services available on site if health needs ever change, Whitney Center makes it possible for seniors to continue enjoying the freedom to embrace life at its fullest.